Domestic Violence and Legal Abuse
Before the Court: Whose Story Are You?
by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.
Divorce litigants suffering from battered woman’s syndrome are prone to be his story in divorce, rather than being their own. And standing in that mess invariably is a sentence for life in hell.
In helping battered mothers during divorce, I have discovered how to inspire their stepping out of his story and into their own. These are the women who find their voice. They get their truth before the court. They create clarity and elicit compassion from court agents and public bystanders...and in the end, they win.
Who Is Mentally Ill?
It’s no secret that domestic abuse comes with a fair dose of shame for both the abuser and the victim. We also know that batterers are externalizes. So it is quite natural to see them blame the abused, discredit the abused and seek to punish the abused for exposing the abuse.
Commonly, she becomes the “crazy” one in court. The batterer convinces all parties verbally and in the court record that she has psychological disturbances, disorders, conditions and disease.
She is the sick one, he declares. She is the one who is emotionally unstable. She is the one with a mental illness. But is this really so?
In my experience with these women, what I see is that many are just wearing the “crazy” hat. They become his story in court because they know no way out of it. And over time, it starts looking like their own story. But is it?
Legal Psychiatric Abuse in Divorce
For example, look at Cynthia. She is a bright, talented and articulate woman who knows the inside of more psychiatric hospitals than most psychologists visit in their professional career. Question is how did she get there? Why? ...And to what end?
During the course of her separation from her husband, she encountered one involuntary hospitalization after another. Over time, the diagnoses given to Cynthia became her identity. She was a victim of legal psychiatric abuse wherein the psychiatric system was the club used to contain, control and contaminate her.
When the day came for Cynthia to stand before the court she could be his story or hers. She was her story in court and her voice was indeed heard. Legal Social Abuse in Divorce
Then there was Lisa, a woman of strength and resilience beyond imagination. Lisa encountered medical challenges of her own and with her children.
By the time she reached divorce court, she carried a psychiatric stigma arising out of her divorcing partner’s professional-social circle. Through our work together, a breakthrough evolved for her. With newfound clarity and a sense of sanity, Lisa became her story as she let go of his.
Who are you in court? Are you his story? Or are you yours? And after the court saga, who are you with your estranged children? Are you his story or are you yours? And beyond, can you be yourself without the story?
© Jeanne King, Ph.D. — Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention
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.