Day 297/730: Transitional Program

Is justice blind to victims of Domestic Abuse and Violence?

Our Courts, The Tool Of An Abuser

I ache for my sister, Anna, right now. She is currently preparing to go up against an attorney pro per. For all of  you that haven’t had the wonderful experience of representing by yourself in court, that is what pro per means. It means u represent yourself; you, yourself, and you. Many courts are still lacking in helping those who must help themselves so, one had better hope their grey matter is firing on all thrusters.

This is the glory of being abused long after a victim has left a relationship. Depending on how long a victim subjected themselves to abuse, their resources could be zero. Economic abuse is a favorite tool used to keep a victim dependent on the abuser. This is just one of the many barriers to leaving. How is a victim supposed to be able to afford an attorney to defend themselves in court when the abuser has control of the finances?

To add to this conundrum, the abuser has probably exhausted a victim to the point that they resemble nothing of the well groomed together person they were before the relationship.  Aside from exhaustion, an abuser creates a state of confusion, vulnerability, and insecurity in the victim. By contrast the abuser will be able to appear in court well dressed, rested, and competent. In court, the objective and often times uninformed authority, this may not translate well. The judge must place the child in the care of the individual best suited to meet the child’s needs. Looking and listening to a victim at the start of rehabilitation may raise eyebrows. For those of us trying to fight for custody of our children, knowing this can also create a state of panic and anxiety. Something else that never goes over well in a court room when arguing the point of stability.

In the mean time the victim is a few feet from an abuser who terrorized her for an extended period of time. This can trigger episodes of PTSD. What does the abuser want? Why full custody of the children of course. The very thing he threatened the victim with if she left. And for all appearance sake, why not give it to him? It is tempting, I am sure, to hand the children right over to the very person responsible for the situation. This is especially true if the judge presiding believes that Domestic Abuse is a myth and only gives credence to Domestic Violence. Why would the judge hand over the welfare of a child to someone who is intimidated by “squinting eyes” and a “clenching jaw”? This is right about the time our judicial system, through lack of education, re-victimizes the victim.

Q: Who is helping change things in our judicial system and our national support system?

A: Bea Hanson. Bea Hanson is the Acting Director of the United States Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW).

We have a long way to go in having an uniform education within our judicial system so that abusers are not able to manipulate our courts in victimizing victims. If victims feel they are not safe or going to be protected as parents by our judges, then they will continue to stay in abuse prolonging exposure to their children in an effort to hang on to them.

To have a look at the current legislation protecting and supporting victims click on: Legislation.

There is not enough in place and it is so obscure in its accesablility that many victims are unable to defend themselves pro per or with an attorney. Let’s raise awareness.

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