Domestic violence

Depressed WomanHi there,

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Nearly one in four women and one in seven men in the United States have suffered severe physical violence by an intimate partner. Female to male and same-sex violence happens and are just as bad, but often less reported. Many are surprised to hear that men are also subject to domestic violence. In fact many men are reluctant to admit that violence is occurring.

Some Victims Don’t Realize They Are Victims

Abusers start small and follow a cycle that tends to be similar. Anger, denigration, blow up, abuse and apology… followed by penitence and some good times before the cycle begins again. Only worse. As the cycle repeats it becomes harder and harder for the victim to leave. Abusers tend to be highly manipulative and convince their victims that they are worthless, powerless and unable to escape. Some victims become so accustomed to this treatment that it becomes their new version of normal, and they lose an urge to leave.

There are many toxic, abusive marriages where there is no physical violence. However, the victim is subject to such unending, demeaning denigration that he or she becomes stuck in … Keep reading

NFL Sheds Spotlight on Domestic Violence

Hi there,

I wrote a post in July on domestic violence referencing the Ray Rice situation. At that time I had only seen the first video showing the aftermath. The second video is even more shocking (viewer discretion advised). However, viewing the first video left no doubt in my mind as to what had happened in that elevator. I am glad that the Ravens and Roger Goodell decided to penalize Rice for real, but disappointed as to how much it took to get there.

It is good to have this discussion in public, because often it isn’t public. If it weren’t for the casino’s security cameras, I doubt that Mrs. Rice would have done anything in response to her attack. And the next time it happens, or the time after that, there will be very real damage.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. As such, and in light of the recent NFL situations, a blog in California recently published some astonishing and scary statistics about domestic violence. Statistics and experience show that it does not occur just against women. And I know anecdotally from 35 years of practice that it is very under-reported by men. We’ve come … Keep reading

Lawyers, Legalese and Latin: Why Lawyers Are Such Language Junkies

Hi there,

I think of myself as a down-to-earth person,  but I unthinkingly use language that is the opposite. I blame this on my law school education, although I think lawyers self-select with a love of language and words.

Last week’s post was titled “Domestic Violence Redux.”  It wasn’t until I was asked for the meaning of “redux” that I realized how arcane the normal language of the law can be. So with no further ado a dictionary, of sorts, of the more commonly used legalese you may hear your attorney using in your divorce or other matters.

  • Redux = revisited
  • Pro se = a litigant is by himself, no counsel
  • Guardian ad litem = a guardian for the purposes of the litigation, commonly referred to as a GAL
  • Propounded, as in “we propounded interrogatories” = “we asked”
  • Interrogatories = written questions to be answered under oath in a set time frame
  • Pro bono = literally means “for good.” Lawyers do a lot of pro bono work for free or reduced fees generally representing folks who can’t afford lawyers, and also when writing briefs for causes the lawyers believe are good
  • Res judicata = already
Keep reading
Domestic Violence Redux

Hi there,

I’m writing this on a rainy, thundery Monday, and the gloom feels appropriate for the subject of today’s post. Domestic violence is NOT always male to female. Female to male and same-sex violence happen and are just as bad, but often less reported.

All states now have anti-violence protective laws, but a law is only useful if you take advantage of it. It is human nature to not want to recognize the first steps toward disaster in an important relationship. This is a good list of warning signs. If you saw your relationship in that list, leave. The sooner you do the safer you will be. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to get out of an abusive relationship. This quick video shows the terrifying progression of one woman’s abusive relationship.

Domestic abuse is not just physical, it often is financial as well. Controlling money is the beginning, and making the legal exit overwhelmingly expensive can be the end. This article paints a good picture of what financial abuse can look like.

Despite the fact that most states have had abuse prevention laws in place for over 25 years, and despite the fact … Keep reading

Depressed Woman

Hi there,

Depressed WomanI hope you all had a terrific Fourth of July!  I also hope that you were not a victim of domestic violence over a long, hot holiday weekend.

I came across some statistics for San Francisco recently which were pretty shocking.  They reflected an increase in domestic violence reporting, due to a local story.  However, the underlying reality of violence is probably pretty much the same everywhere.  I was shocked to see in a variety of sources that 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence.  Neither wealth nor celebrity status prevents violence.  In fact, Mr. Charles Saatchi has filed for divorce from his wife, celebrity chef Nigella Lawson, complaining that she didn’t defend him when he was photographed choking her in public.

It is not just a crime against women though.  Over the years I have represented numbers of men abused by their wives.  However, I was still shocked to discover that 40% of domestic violence is perpetrated against men.  As a group, they are way less likely to report or even admit that they have been victims.  While women are more often killed as a result of domestic violence, men are more often attacked with … Keep reading

Domestic Violence in the News

Hi there,

Jovan Belcher

The news has been full of the sad story of football player Jovan Belcher shooting his baby’s mother 9 times, then driving to the practice field and killing himself in front of his coaches. There has been lots of punditry surrounding football and concussions, guns, drugs and alcohol, and even mental illness, but not so much discussion of what is likely the real issue: domestic violence.  (Here’s a link to a good article I recently found about keeping yourself safe in a  domestic violence situation.)

There were plenty of clues that Belcher had anger issues with the girlfriends in his life, and it appears that the Chiefs were aware of this as they were providing counselling for him.  Professional sports is a very high testosterone universe. I have long believed that the professional sports teams, in an attempt to protect their investment in the players, have long sheltered abusers and quieted victims.  Not the same as Penn State, but not dissimilar either.

On a more positive note in the same area, Massachusetts has passed a pet protection law as part of our domestic violence protection. This is wonderful on so many levels, … Keep reading

Hi there,

Starting this week I am changing the name of the Monday’s Miscellany category (don’t worry, you can find all past entries here).  Because I do a lot of in court litigation, Mondays tend to be a very difficult day for me to get a post together if I don’t manage to get it done over the weekend, sooo I am changing the title to Divorce Lawyer’s Choice, to get out of having to absolutely, positively have it done on Monday 🙂

This week I want to talk about women’s issues.  Not usually my bag, but I was so outraged by this article that I had to put it out there.  Hi there, TaxGirl, question – If an institution has tax free status as a result of being a certain religion, do they get a “get out of jail card” for treating women as second class citizens?

Domestic violence in my mind stems, at least in part, from the belief that the victim is less than the abuser. The statistics are absolutely horrifying.  Statistics don’t tell the whole story . Domestic violence cuts across socioeconomic and gender lines as these two prior articles showcase.

This … Keep reading

Hi there,

Somehow a post on domestic violence protection doesn’t seem in the true spirit of Christmas, but the sorry truth is that this is a problem which exacerbates during the holidays with their overlay of extra family stress and alcohol fueled parties.

Massachusetts has several laws designed to deal with these circumstances.  In addition to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 209A, which was discussed in my last post, there are probate statutes, Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 208 Sections 34B,C and D.  These are useful for psychological battering and generally unhealthy, emotional circumstances as well.  It is important to note that the statutes and the Court do recognize the burden parental violence puts on children and attempts to protect them from it.

Chapter 209A defines the standard as “attempting to cause or causing physical harm, placing another in fear of imminent, serious,  physical harm.”  The parties need to be family or household members and the order can remove a party from the home without prior notice, although s/he will later have his/her day in court.  This is a very serious statute, which is so helpful because it includes provisions for protection on nights and weekends … Keep reading

Hi there,

With all the speculation in the news and gossip media about what may, or may not, have happened at Tiger Woods’ home last week, it seems a timely moment to discuss the Massachusetts Abuse Prevention laws.

Domestic abuse is a horrible and pervasive thing. It devastates not only the direct victim but the most innocent of bystanders – the children. If violence did occur at the Woods’ abode I would bet it was a single, wild fight, violent and horrible with lethal potential but not the ongoing, personality destroying, dehumanizing continuum of real domestic abuse.

If you read the news, at least every day another person (usually a woman) is killed in the United States as a result of domestic violence.

In an attempt to stem the tide, states have enacted various laws to try and prosecute the abuser even when the victim refuses to testify. (One of the most demoralizing situations family lawyers face is a victim returning to the batterer and then refusing to testify. In Florida, if Tiger were to say his wife had hit him with the golf club (if she did?) then he would have no further control of the situationKeep reading

Hi there!

I hope you all had a terrific Thanksgiving.  Back to the real world now …

A friend sent me this map of unemployment statistics (originally written by Latoya Egwuekwe and published by the American Observer), which outlines the Geography of a Recession, by month and county/state.  It is real clear that a lot of folks are still having a terrible time regardless of the small improvements we may see or hear about.

One of the more frightening realities of being a divorce lawyer is having a client who you are certain is at terrible risk of domestic violence. I don’t know what caused this lawyer to follow her client in her car but let us hope that the client lives.  It sounds as if the quick first aid (not part of the law school curriculum) may have helped (courtesy of the ABA Journal).

It was apparently a slow news weekend as Tiger Woods‘ unfortunate mishap, or whatever it really was, lead the news.  My bet is on a “marital spat.”  Just in case you were curious (I know I was), here are the five things you need to know about Tiger Woods’ Keep reading