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Opinion: The Importance Of Domestic Violence Laws

Opinion

Domestic violence law book | Image by Shutterstock

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“On a typical day, domestic violence Hotline’s receive approximately 21,000 calls, an average of close to 15 calls every minute.”

Statistics.

Think about this. That very likely means that you know someone who has experienced domestic violence, or you yourself have experienced abuse.

When I say domestic violence I do not just mean physical, or sexual abuse, which people often think that is all domestic violence is about. Domestic violence is verbal abuse, mental, emotional abuse, coercive control, and it is financial abuse as well.

People need to know that there are no laws that are good enough in order to protect domestic violence victims.

There is Kayden’s Law.

Unfortunately, this law is not in Texas yet, and why not? That is a good question to ask our State Representatives Senator Cornyn, and Senator Cruz. An even better one would be to ask why either one of these senators is not pushing themselves, or their colleagues to enact Federal Domestic Violence Laws.

There is also Piqui’s Law.

These laws address custody when it comes to abuse, and it goes without saying that the child, children are safer with the non-abusive parent. Yet neither of these laws is in Texas, and, or a combination of these two laws, and once again why not?

I know non-abusive parents who have not seen their children in weeks, months, and in some very sad situations in years, and it is all because Family Court judges have some archaic views of how things have to be 50/50. When you are talking about children, they are not a piece of furniture items to be divided up. The only question that should be asked is if this child would be safer with the parent who did not abuse the other person. The answer to that would be an unequivocal yes.

Is this a lack of education thing? I would certainly hope not, because if you are a judge, you should absolutely know everything that there is to know about domestic violence. There are many people who believe that judges understand, but fail to do what is right. I believe that there is always something more that can be learned. There should be mandatory domestic violence training nationwide, and this must be done by highly trained qualified domestic violence professionals. These professionals must also include actual victims of abuse, so that not only the judges, but district attorneys, law enforcement, and their staff can hear first-hand what abuse victims endure. I would like to see it be mandatory for lawyers as well, but one step at a time.

An even bigger issue is that there are just no laws that protect victims of domestic abuse. For us in the United States of America to continue to think that the answer is going state to state is just not working for everyone who desperately needs help right now. In America, we need Federal Domestic Violence Laws.

Recently with the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women’s Act, the VAWA is just simply not enough, because this is missing key elements which do not protect all domestic abuse victims. While it is very important to make steps in the right direction victims cannot afford to wait, because they are dying at the hands of their abusers. How many of us have read, or heard on the news how another victim of abuse has died? What if this was your mom, sister, brother, or someone that you knew? We should not have to wait for this to become personal for our lawmakers to act on enacting Federal Domestic Violence Laws.

Representatives can take a combination of Kayden’s, and Piqui’s Laws, and then they create laws that work at protecting domestic violence victims who do not have children.

What some people do not understand is that far too many victims of abuse are forced to be heard in Family Court, and it is because they are seeking a divorce from their abuser. No cases concerning any kind of abuse should be in Family Court. These cases are criminal, and should only be heard in Criminal Court. This is yet another reason for Federal Domestic Violence Laws, because then if your situation involves abuse of any kind you would only be heard in a Criminal Court, and they would be responsible for approving your divorce.

There are more things that can be accomplished with the laws, but this is not only going to require experts in domestic violence, but the lawmakers allowing the input of victims of abuse as well. Until you have lived this you cannot possibly grasp what can arise from an abuser. Post separation abuse is very real. Just ask anyone who has fled from their abuser.

People would think that once you have left, or once the divorce finalized that would end the abuse, but in the majority of most situations it is only an invitation for the abuser to abuse even further. Abusers cannot stand losing control. That is where coercive control comes in.

Coercive control can happen at any point throughout the relationship.

“Abusers use coercive control tactics to control their partners through isolation, gaslighting, monitoring and more. And the practice is present in almost all cases of domestic abuse.”

Many of us have heard the term gaslighting. There was even a movie done about this. This is form of emotional abuse.

You are made to feel as if whatever you are doing, or feeling is wrong. You start to question yourself, and your abuser is only too happy to make sure that you know that they are right.

Many victims of abuse develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and some develop Complex PTSD. Traumatic stress can do serious harm to your brain.

This is also something that Family Court does not take into consideration. Unless you have the knowledge, or a very good lawyer who has the knowledge to address this it is not brought to the judge’s attention. Besides the necessity of therapy victims maybe require medical attention as well. If the victims do not have medical insurance who is going to pay for this? We have all heard more about the great importance of mental health awareness. This is exceptionally important for victims of abuse. Yet another thing that could be easily addressed if there was Federal Domestic Violence Laws.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. While I am obviously writing about the State of Texas, I also think about the victims who I have connected with in other states, and even around the world. In Texas we are failing at properly helping domestic violence victims. It most certainly is nothing to be proud of, and watching other states enact these laws, or other countries surpass the United States of America should quite frankly be embarrassing. It has been said that we are the country to emulate. When it comes to domestic violence laws we are not, but we can change this. I have previously explained how the Court has greatly failed us. As citizens we need to speak up for victims of abuse. We must demand better laws. We must not only protect our children from abusers, but we must protect all victims of abuse.

So while I have given you information to contact Texas Senators, you can also contact our President and other members of Congress.  You can also comment below this article and send it to your senators.  Here is a way to get information about your state senator.

You can inquire yourself about these subject matters, and engage with victims of abuse from other countries. Twitter is a good place for this, and most often you can find information on Facebook about this as well. Type in the hashtags domestic violence, domestic abuse, family court, or coercive control. You could volunteer at your local domestic violence shelter, or donate items that they need. In some cases, domestic violence shelters will allow you to even tour their facility. Ask questions, and get involved, because there are far too many people who have no idea what it is like to have to live at a domestic violence shelter with complete strangers who are sharing the same room as you.

You can also search up articles like I have attached here. Ask your local media why they are not doing more articles, stories about domestic violence in their news outlets, at their television station. Domestic violence happens in every single city, and town in America. As I already mentioned this month is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the color purple has been selected to represent this. Wear purple, or add a purple ribbon to whatever you are wearing, and explain to people why you are wearing this color. Get involved. Be vocal. Help the victims of domestic violence who also need your voices to be heard. Please do not idly by, and allow one more victim of abuse to die at the hands of their abuser. It is my hope that long before next October rolls around, the United States of America has already enacted Federal Domestic Violence Laws.

Lilli is a Mom, a Photographer, and an Advocate for victims of domestic abuse, and animal rights. She and her child are victims of domestic abuse.

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Nan
Nan
1 month ago

Thank you for this. Propublica did a national piece https://www.propublica.org/article/parental-responsibility-evaluators-colorado

Roderick Francis
Roderick Francis
1 month ago

why is it that there is only a group called Violence Against Women’s Act when we men are Victims also. My EX-WIFE that I was with for 19 years, cheated on me all the way up to our divorce and I cooked, cleaned, took care of her and the kids. She belittled me infront of the kids while she would pack to go out of town to spend time with her guy friends. She would text them on the phone laying next to me in the bed while we were supposed to be watching TV. The minute she would hang up the phone she would turn over and go to sleep and the minute that she would wake up she would get on her phone. She lied to the church that we went to and told them that I was abusing her and they believed her. .Friendship West Baptist Church and Pastor Fredrick Hynes lll cuddle her with open arms, yet slam the door in my face without asking any questions. even though I was the one that first joined the Church and then brought my kids there so then also joined and then decided to get Baptized. But we all left on the count of her and the way that they treated me. then Judge Kim Cooks, even though she spoke to both of my kids and they told her that I did not abuse my wife. She still marked on my papers that I was a spousel abuser so that she could use the system and get help that she don’t deserve. This system only Protects Women’s even when they are the abusers….. MEN ARE VICTIMS TOO.