This post is written by Abigail C. Barnes with the Alford Law Office. Abbie is a former director of the McCracken County Child Support Office, former Domestic Violence Prosecutor and former Felony Offense Public Advocate.
It has been
said that going through a divorce is one of the top five stressors in a
Add abuse, whether
physical or emotional, to the mix and the stress becomes heightened to the
point of being dangerous.
In fact, when
the abused party is trying to untangle themselves from a toxic relationship,
that is statistically the most dangerous time
he or she has to face.
is about power and control.
who has undergone a divorce would know, a divorce alone leaves you feeling
powerless to control your circumstances at best.
If domestic violence is an issue, then
usually the abuser fights harder for the upper hand, while the abused party is
faced with abuse at a heightened rate.
Mediation is an amazing tool to help an individual going
through a divorce maintain some control over what happens.
Mediation is a guided negotiation with a
knowledgeable and unbiased party at the helm, helping both parties reach an
agreement that satisfies them both.
However, throw the dynamic of domestic violence into the mix, and the
negotiations have the tendency to become volatile and one sided.
As a former Domestic Violence Prosecutor, I have seen first
hand the affects that domestic violence and abuse have on an individual who has
suffered at the hands of an abuser.
times, the abuser will expertly manipulate the abused to reach their desired
Their end game being to assert
their power and control over the situation, thus getting what they want at the
expense of the other party.
Fortunately, the courts have recognized this as a
significant issue, and many jurisdictions, including Kentucky, prohibit
mediation in cases where a Domestic Violence Order (“DVO”) has been
entered. Unfortunately, however, many
acts of domestic violence go unreported, thus leaving the court with no
knowledge of how ordering parties to mediation may affect the
negotiations. It is not uncommon to have
an abused party, who for whatever reason, has not reported the abuse, or who
has reported it but did not follow through with charges or a DVO. In these cases, if the abused party remains
silent, they could be sent to mediation and placed into a situation that allows
the abuser to maximize his/her power and control over the situation, thus
manipulating the abused into a one-sided agreement. The significance of this can
be even more dramatic if there are children involved.
If you find yourself in the situation where you are involved
in court proceedings against an individual who has routinely abused you, either
physically or emotionally, the best thing you can do to protect your rights is
to hire an attorney who understands that dynamic and fully inform them of your
Silence truly is your
Do not remain silent in
situations that have the potential to affect your future.
Tell your attorney so that special precautions can be made to protect
you from being further intimidated at the negotiating table.
Photo courtesy of Jane Fox
Labels: divorce, domestic violence, mediation