You hit your significant other. Now you’re facing possible jail time and a restraining order. But while those are serious consequences, the worst, for you, is that you’ve lost the love and respect of someone you really cared about. Is there any way to get that back? To restore normalcy to your life and relationship?
Protect Your Freedom AND Engage in Sober Reflection
It’s one thing to vigorously defend yourself against legal charges related to the domestic violence event. You deserve fairness, and the consequences of a criminal conviction can profoundly affect your financial future, your job prospects and even your freedom. And even though you did (by your own admission) commit a violent act, you need to protect yourself against overly aggressive prosecutors. You’re looking for fairness and a chance to reboot and start again.
At the same time, you also need to examine your behavior, habits and thought patterns to figure out where you went wrong. Owning your bad decisions takes tremendous courage. And it is in no way the same thing as submitting passively to punishment. In fact—depending sensitively on the details of what you do—acts of contrition or remorse can help with your domestic violence defense.
Of course, apologizing to someone you hit or emailing her out of the blue can also make the situation worse, depending on what you do and/or how you react to the person’s response. For instance, a contrite email taken out of context could suggest a pattern of violent behavior that didn’t actually exist—and that in turn could fuel unnecessarily aggressive prosecution. Likewise, posting on social media about what happened—even if only to carefully defend your point of view, so that friends and family can hear “both sides”—can lead to tremendous challenges and add complexity to your case.
Before you accidentally make a bad situation harder—even by accident, with the best of intentions—consult an experienced Los Angeles domestic violence attorney to come up with a strategic plan.
Understanding the Root Cause
Inward reflection, contemplation and analysis can help a lot. It’s important not to lie to yourself or make excuses for behavior you know was unskillful.
When it comes to analyzing your contribution to the violence, sort explanations from excuses. Explanations might be along the lines of: “she did (or didn’t do) XYZ to me,” or “it was the drugs or alcohol, not me,” or “I grew up in a home where dad hit mom.” Those things might indeed explain why you did what you did, but they obviously don’t justify it. So yes—it’s crucial to protect your future, ensure that the charges aren’t exaggerated, avoid unnecessary self-flagellation and do what you can to return to normal. But you also want to pay attention to the red flags. Where did you go wrong? What can you do to change your patterns of action and thought constructively? Who can help you make these changes—and treat you with the compassion you need to make them stick?
The Right Kind of Therapy—So You Can Move Forward the Right Way
It’s a cliché to say “admitting that you have a problem is only the first step.” But there’s truth in that cliché. To take ownership of any situation, you first need to see it clearly. Obviously, you want to ensure that you’ll be on your best behavior from now on. So where do you go? Many groups help victims of domestic abuse, but far fewer work with abusers to break the violence cycle.
If you can afford it, consider seeing a private therapist. Another option is the National Domestic Violence Hotline: reach them at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or find resources on their website, www.thehotline.org. A qualified Los Angeles domestic violence attorney can also connect you with useful, strategic resources.
A well-run support group—along the lines of Alcoholics Anonymous—can also help. You can meet others in similar circumstances and discuss your hopes and frustrations. What’s helped them change may help you as well.
Seemingly indirect changes in your lifestyle, diet and exercise regimen can also be useful. Reducing intake of processed carbs and sugar, for instance, may normalize blood sugar and metabolic/hormonal problems, which may prevent roller coaster moods that trigger violent urges. Likewise, powerful new science suggests that mindfulness meditation—when practiced habitually—can begin to change the way we react to events in our environment. Research on veteran meditators suggests that the practice can even remodel structures in the brain itself—for instance, reducing the amygdala’s control over your behavior.
You didn’t learn unskillful of behavior in a day; you’re not going to be able to resolve the problem in a week or a month. Accept that change takes time, effort and self-control. Be prepared to give your loved one space and time. Your significant other may well hold you at arm’s length until she can assess how real your remorse is and whether or not she can really trust you.
Reflect on these three powerful quotes:
- When we tackle obstacles, we find hidden reserves of courage and resilience we did not know we had. And it is only when we are faced with failure do we realise that these resources were always there within us. We only need to find them and move on with our lives. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
- Someone said adversity builds character, but someone else said adversity reveals character. I’m pleasantly surprised with my resilience. I persevere, and not just blindly. I take the best, get rid of the rest, and move on, realizing that you can make a choice to take the good. Brooke Shields
- Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that’s good. Elizabeth Edwards
Deal Effectively with Any Criminal Charges Related to the Incident
The desire to turn over a new leaf after a traumatic incident with someone you love is admirable. However, you still face possibly serious legal challenges because of what happened. Our experienced team at the Kraut Law Group can help you develop a smart, strategic defense—to protect your freedom, stop overzealous prosecutors, and give you the support you need to rebound and get your life back on track. Please call our offices to schedule a private consultation about your next steps.