As someone recently accused of domestic violence charges, you’re no doubt acutely aware of the challenges faced by victims. Whether you stand falsely accused of hitting a spouse or partner, or whether you took an action against someone you love that you profoundly regret, it’s important to empathize. After all, finding a resolution to your family crisis—and your criminal case—requires understanding the situation first.
Unfortunately, those accused of domestic violence—as well as those victimized by violent acts—often look only to the courts to sort things out. Sometimes, sadly, punitive intervention is necessary. But wouldn’t it be better if everyone involved could have their needs met and society provided more (and better) resources to families in trouble?
After all, the end goals we’re all seeking are the same:
• Happier, healthier relationships
• People feeling safe around loved ones
• Healed communities
The following Internet resources are meant to inspire you—whether you’re someone who stands accused of domestic violence (and you desperately want to do right by your family and protect your freedom) or you’re a victim who needs proper support.
Where to Get Help
Victims of domestic violence—as well as those who stand accused of this crime—often feel trapped by their situation. They don’t know where to find help, what they should do, how to stay safe or how to seek justice.
WomensLaw.org, a website from the National Network to End Domestic Violence, offers useful insights. Their website covers diverse topics, including how to find help and help others in need.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline offers a 24/7 toll free number for people to call when they’re seeking help because of domestic violence. Highly-trained advocates will listen and provide resources and information for anyone. A live online chat service is available from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day.
Get some insights into emotional abuse from Abby Rodman, a licensed social worker, who explores five different areas in relationship interactions:
1. Support versus discouragement
2. Admiration versus criticism
3. Empathy versus indifference
4. Balance versus chaos
5. Responsibility versus blame
Financial abuse, meanwhile, occurs when one person uses money to exert power and control over another. Laura Shin explores “The Slippery Slope Into Financial Abuse” in an article on the Forbes website . She notes that it starts when one partner suggests putting all the money into a single account (controlled by him/her) or takes over the payment of all bills. The abused partner eventually wakes up to the fact that she/he has no financial power—no credit, no savings, and often no way of earning a living.
In Financial Abuse: 6 Signs and What You Can Do About It author Ginger Dean explains how the abuser takes control and suggests strategies for regaining financial independence.
Patrician Evans is a best-selling author who has written five books that cover all aspects of verbal abuse. (Her books receive 4.5-star ratings on both Amazon and Goodreads.) Her website offers an FAQ on verbal abuse, a guide to some resources and support groups and, of course brief summaries of her books and those by other authors that deal with this topic. Evans also has a series of YouTube videos that explain what verbal abuse is and how to deal with it.
What if you’re falsely accused of this crime? The National Center for Reason and Justice offers some powerful insights here.
Here’s one core idea to remember: “Your innocence does not protect you. When innocent people are confronted with untrue, absurd allegations of child abuse, they frequently assume that this is a simple misunderstanding and that it will be cleared up quickly. They cooperate with police and try to explain. They have faith in our system of justice. They do not demand that a lawyer be present. Take the allegations very seriously.”
The National Coalition for Men, meanwhile, discusses the devastation that can occur as a result of untrue allegations. Per the article: “Even if there is no conviction, a false allegation of rape can emotionally, socially, and economically destroy a person.”
Sometimes, in the heat of battle over child custody, one spouse will make false accusations against the other of abuse and/or neglect in the hope that this strategy will convince the court to rule in their favor. And in certain cases, this parent will also recruit the child by brainwashing him or her to believe these untrue accusations. Clinicians call this phenomenon “Parental Alienation.”
Here’s how Psychology Today defines it:
“Parental alienation involves the “programming” of a child by one parent to denigrate the other “targeted” parent, in an effort to undermine and interfere with the child’s relationship with that parent, and is often a sign of a parent’s inability to separate from the couple conflict and focus on the needs of the child. Such denigration results in the child’s emotional rejection of the targeted parent, and the loss of a capable and loving parent from the life of the child.”
The diagnosis is a controversial one. Some critics suggest that Parental Alienation isn’t real—or that the actual instances are few and far between. There’s a dearth of good science to lead the way, and it’s exceedingly challenging to shine a light on what’s really going on in these relationships.
Where to Go From Here?
It may seem strange to offer resources to both domestic violence victims and the accused in the same post. However, again, remember all our shared goals—we all want to heal, to become better people, to protect those we love, to avoid unfair punishment, and to figure out long term solutions.
When people understand their rights—as well as the rights and needs of the other side—we all take one big step closer to making our community safer and more just.