Abuse and Divorce
Why You’d Want to Make Friends
With Your Divorce Court Record
by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.
I once heard that the hardest thing for an abused child, next to being abused, is to tell and re-tell their story of the abuse. As a psychologist, I know this to be established thinking and as a protective parent, I witnessed it as well. It’s not that much different for battered mothers...though it’s not in the telling; it’s in the “hearing.”
I have seen case after case of battered women coming to me unable to even look at the documents in their court record, much less read them. These women are eager to tell me their story, but to hear it being told...well that’s another story.
Out of Sight Out of Mind
It is so painful to know that your life is falling apart and your relationship with your children is being threatened, all because of misrepresentations, distortions and lies told to the court and its agents. You notice how your soon-to-be-ex has cleverly manipulated healthcare providers, school personnel, neighbors, clergy...all in an effort to save face for himself and “win.”
He’s winning the perspective of those looking in by creating a court record—80% of which is his point of view, leaving only 20% for yours. It’s no wonder that you can’t read those court documents. It’s like listening to his garble—his garbage—in the marital home. You reach a point in which you can no longer hear that story.
So, you set it aside, keeping it out of sight and out of mind. You hold a document recommending custody to the person that abuses you and your children, and the words are like swords that you cannot bear to experience. You set that document aside because you simply can’t stand looking at it, much less reading it.
Turning “The Story” Around by Adding Yours
One of the first things I do with women in this situation is to read their story and help them interject their truth in order to level the playing field amidst the misrepresentations and lies. Doing this shifts the status of their case and its potential for a favorable outcome, dramatically. Here’s why...
It not only infuses their truth into the mix (i.e. the court’s reality), but it changes their relationship to their own divorce and custody battle. These women become inspired warriors before my eyes. The inner strength that wells up and comes through them is inspiring.
The Golden Nugget in Your Story
There are situations in which your story could complicate your circumstances and other situations wherein your facts could turn a sinking ship 180 degrees. While it is true that the decision of what to put forth is essentially a legal matter, it is also true that you could be holding the “legal” key to your own success.
For example, many states have a statute regarding family violence and a child custody presumption. The presumption is that a documented abuser is not a candidate for child custody. So the question then becomes, do you want your story revealed or not?
Your Story, Your Clarity and You
No matter how much of your story comes into the court record, the moment you take his in and let yours out...you are free. You become available to see crucial facts, issues and themes that change your relationship to your case.
If you know the pain of reading your court record, consider re-aliening with the “facts” of your case. In doing so, my may recreate the ultimate outcome for you and our children.
For personal help with legal domestic abuse, visit http://www.preventabusiverelationships.com/consulting.html. Psychologist Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps individuals nationwide end and heal from domestic abuse at home and in court. © Jeanne King, Ph.D. — Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention
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Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact us if you need help with physical and/or emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, or relationship abuse issues at home or in court. Contact Us to reach Dr. King.