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The danger of staying silent about domestic abuse

In far too many marriages, domestic violence remains the "dirty little secret" kept between couples. For many in Charlotte, the idea of not reporting such abuse may seem ludicrous. Yet such an assumption fails to take into account the strong feelings victims may still have for their spouses despite the abuse. In fact, a U.S. Department of Justice survey showed that 12 percent of those who choose not to report incidents of domestic violence did so to protect their abusers.

Many domestic violence victims may feel as though the threat of danger from their spouses ends with a divorce, and thus don't choose to report the abuse or file a restraining order. Yet continuing to omit the details of marital abuse after a divorce can present a real danger, especially if a couple has children together. Statistics from a series of studies compiled by The Leadership Council reveals some alarming numbers:

  • In a review of disputed custody cases, between 50 to 59 percent of the fathers awarded custody had been accused of domestic violence against their wives in the past.
  • A study of North Carolina custody cases showed that 84 percent of fathers were awarded sole or joint custody despite 26 percent having been accused or proven of abusing their children. 
  • A national survey of over 200 psychologists showed that they considered alienation to be a stronger factor in recommending custody than domestic violence.

Leaving an abusive marriage often isn't enough to end the threat of family violence. Domestic violence victims may want to keep this in mind when considering whether or not to reveal the details of their abuse during a divorce. The future safety of their children may hinge on their decisions.

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