Legal Domestic Abuse – The Reality of
Family Violence and Institutionalized Abuse

Dr. King

by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.

When domestic abuse survivors show up in the system to protect their children and themselves from family violence, they can unknowingly step into “institutionalized abuse.” This is especially true when they rely on family court to provide remedy for domestic violence.

What Is Institutionalized Abuse?

Institutionalized abuse is where one person willfully, openly and legally is taking advantage of and violating the rights and liberties of another person...all while being paid.

People worldwide look to divorce court for protection against family violence and are abused by the judicial process and its legal agents as, if not more severely than, they were in their marriages.

In their devastation, they deteriorate as they persist in pushing against what is. And with this, the legal abuse expands until it defines and paralyzes them.

You may have heard me refer to this as “systemic abuse,” meaning abuse evolving out of the workings of the system. The reference here to it being institutionalized speaks to it as open, legitimate acceptable practice.

Institutionalized Abuse and Legalized Gambling

I liken institutionalized abuse to legalized gambling. You know how it is when you pay for your new electronics and the clerk asks, “Would you like an extended warranty on that?”

We know what’s actually going on here is that she/he is inviting you into a round of legalized gambling. You are betting it’s going to break, and they are betting it won’t. And the established dollar investment/risk is how you bridge the gap. Once we engage in this agreement, we are both involved in a bet that is out in the open and deemed acceptable and legitimate.

The same is true for “institutionalized abuse.” When judges, divorce lawyers, custody evaluators and healthcare providers willfully and openly assist in the perpetuation of individual and family violations, they are engaging in institutionalized abuse.

How to Survive Amidst Institutionalized Abuse

If you are a domestic violence survivor in divorce court and you see yourself being further and further abused through the abuse of power, stop and see it for what it is. You are facing institutionalized abuse.

The absolute best thing you can do for yourself is learn to work around it as you encounter it. Your job is not to control it...terminate it, any more than you can stop the merchants from soliciting extended warranties. But you can say “no” to it.

Your mission then becomes how to say “no” to institutionalized abuse. From here, you can end your ordeal with family violence, while you protect yourself and your loved ones.

To learn more about how to successfully navigate the legal system, read Legal Domestic Abuse. Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps women worldwide to protect themselves and their children in family court. Copyright 2009, Jeanne King, Ph.D.

Dr. 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.