Few things in life can have a more profound negative impact on a family than domestic violence. Even being charged with DV, regardless of guilt or innocence, can deeply disrupt your world and leave lasting repercussions long after the fact.
But here’s the good news: These events don’t have to define the rest of your life. No matter how bad the circumstances, by acting and living with purpose going forward, you can move past those domestic violence charges and begin making your world better. The start of a new year and new decade affords a perfect opportunity to put the past in your rearview mirror. Let’s discuss some practical ways for you to prevent the bad things of the previous decade from following you into the 2020s.
Refuse to See Yourself as a Victim
Let’s consider two scenarios. Under the first…you were falsely accused of domestic violence, and perhaps you were even convicted. Maybe those charges rocked your world, endangered your job, fragmented your family or even put you in jail for a time. Even if you ended up exonerated, the repercussions of that arrest may continue for some time to come.
Now, let’s look at the second scenario. Perhaps you actually did hurt someone you care about, and maybe you’re struggling to figure out what prompted you to do it. Maybe it was some abuse from the past that resurfaced in your life at just the wrong time—and yet, the charges were valid, the sentence was just, and you’re left trying to pick up the pieces of whatever is left of you.
Life is not always fair—and sometimes it is. But here’s your reality check: “Fair” is actually irrelevant. Regardless of which scenario you relate to above, seeing yourself as the victim is unhelpful. The reason? When you see yourself as the victim, you’ll do nothing to make things better. You won’t recognize cause-and-effect in your life because you see life as just “happening” to you. (Not to mention playing the victim undermines the actual victims of domestic violence.)
While you certainly can’t control everything in your life, you can control how you respond to your circumstances—and your responses can make things better or worse. It doesn’t matter whether your current situation is “fair”—what will make it better or worse is how you play the cards you were dealt. Playing a better hand begins with abandoning the victim mentality—not because it’s fair or not fair, but because it doesn’t suit your purpose. If you want life to become better from here—for your family as well as yourself—it’s time to put the blame game behind you. Once you do, you’re free to make practical choices that will make your circumstances better in the days and years to come.
Get Help If Necessary
As you take an honest look at how you arrived at this point in your life, you may discover that you made certain choices or reacted in certain ways that were unhelpful to your cause. Many times, these responses are reflexes—in other words, we do them without thinking because we’re somehow pre-programmed or conditioned to do them. If these domestic violence charges arose due to unresolved issues in your life, you need to find ways to come to grips with those issues—otherwise, you have no guarantees that those triggers won’t come back to bite you in the future.
If this situation seems familiar to you, there’s no shame in seeking professional help in addressing those unresolved mental/emotional issues in your life. Just the opposite, in fact—it’s the honorable thing to do, especially if you want to break the cycle of dysfunction that may have led you to this point. Therapy is not a magic pill, but it gives you a framework to work on yourself, allowing you to identify unhealthy triggers and learn better ways to respond to them.
Make Amends and Work on Healing Your Relationships
When domestic violence occurs, it obviously wounds the victim, whether physically, emotionally or both. But the impact can go far beyond one specific altercation between two people—it can affect everyone to whom you are connected. An act of domestic violence can leave emotional scars on children, parents and other loved ones, even if they weren’t directly involved or targeted. Regardless of the outcome in court, chances are the event that led to your arrest has left more than one relationship fractured in its wake. Even as you work through the legal process, and even as you work on yourself—you’ll also need to work on healing those relationships if you want things to be better moving forward.
Fair warning: The people you have hurt are not obligated to forgive you. Some relationships may have to be rebuilt over time—usually with certain boundaries in place—and some relationships may not be mended at all. However, that fact doesn’t excuse you from the obligation to own your mistakes and to seek forgiveness and closure. Approach the people who were hurt, take responsibility for your actions, apologize and let them know the steps you’re taking to get better for the future. Then follow through with your promises to get better. Healing may take time, but regardless of how people respond—making amends will go a long way in your own life to set you on a better path in the years to come.
Of course, as you look to a brighter future, you may still need to deal with some difficult circumstances in the present. If you have been arrested for domestic violence and need compassionate, skillful legal representation, call our offices for a free case evaluation.