Domestic Violence

10 Steps to Take if Your Spouse Commits Domestic Violence

patrickcrawford | October 6, 2020

If your spouse is abusive, there are specific steps you can employ to help protect yourself and your children. Further, a compassionate protective orders lawyer in Annapolis will help you face this devastating situation and obtain the legal answers you need.

If your spouse has engaged in domestic violence, you are living through a very difficult situation that should be addressed immediately. Do not put off seeking the help you need in the hope that things will get better. Violence in your home endangers you and your children and should never be tolerated, overlooked, minimized, or hidden. If your spouse is abusive, an experienced protective orders lawyer in Annapolis is standing by to help.

Step 1: Understand What Domestic Violence Is

Domestic violence is about far more than physical violence, which is obviously devastating in and of itself. In the State of Maryland, domestic violence is defined as someone’s mistreatment of an intimate partner or another family member. The abuse inherent to domestic violence can take many forms (each of which is extremely detrimental), including:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Verbal abuse
  • Emotional and psychological abuse

Step 2: Understand that Domestic Violence Is a Social Problem

Domestic violence isn’t just a health concern, but it also has broader legal and social implications. If your spouse is abusive, you are not alone and should not blame yourself – you and your children did nothing to deserve the abuse you are experiencing. Further, both emotional and physical abuse can lead to very real, very immediate long-term health consequences for you and your children. Obtaining the help you need may be extremely frightening, but taking that first step can provide you with the confidence you need to keep going. Do it for yourself, do it for your children, and do it as a display of solidarity with others who suffer from domestic abuse.

Step 3: Call 9-1-1 if You Are in Danger

If you are afraid that your abusive spouse is going to injure you or someone else, do not be afraid to call 9-1-1. Many victims of domestic violence become numb to its effects and don’t recognize the severity of the mounting danger until it’s too late. When it comes to you and your children’s safety, always err on the side of caution. 

Step 4: Obtain an Emergency or Interim Protective Order

If you need a protective order right now, you can obtain one via an interim protective order from the District Court Commissioner’s office, which remains open 24 hours a day and seven days a week, or via a temporary protective order from the District or Circuit Court in your county during regular business hours. You do not need to have your spouse with you, which makes the process far more doable and expedient. The interim protective order will last only until you are able to obtain an emergency order during business hours (the interim order will expire by the end of the second business day following its issuance). If you and/or your children are being abused by your spouse, you’re going through a terrible ordeal, and you very likely aren’t in a great position to attempt to obtain legal protections on your own – remember that protective orders lawyers in Annapolis are here to help.

Step 5: Understand what a Protective Order Is

When a judge issues a protective order, it can provide extensive protections in the form of restrictions and requirements that will be levied on your abusive spouse. To obtain a protective order, you do not have to file criminal charges against your abuser. 

Step 6: Understand the Kinds of Acts that Qualify for Protective Orders

A protective order can be issued for any one of the following abusive acts:

  • Any act that causes serious bodily harm
  • Any act that makes you fear that serious bodily harm is imminent (including credible threats of such)
  • A physical assault
  • Rape or another kind of sexual assault (including attempts to commit such an assault)
  • False imprisonment (not allowing you to leave your home for example)
  • Mental injury to a child
  • Stalking

In other words, if you or your children have been injured, fear being injured, or are being physically detained by your spouse, a protective order is likely your best option. 

Step 7: Consult with a Skilled Protective Orders Lawyer in Annapolis

If your spouse engages in domestic abuse, you need a protective order now, and an experienced protective orders attorney will work closely with you to help expedite the process and to help ensure you and your children’s continued safety.   

Step 8: Understand Your Options

If your spouse is abusive, a protective order can help protect you, and it’s critical that you explore this option with a knowledgeable protective orders lawyer in Annapolis. There is also, however, the option of bringing criminal charges against your abusive spouse. This is a matter that you will address with the police. Further, if criminal charges have already been levied in relation to the abuse perpetrated by your spouse, you’ll want to keep the police reports in support of your request for a protective order. 

Step 9: Bolster Your Request

If you’re requesting a protective order from the court, all of the following forms of evidence (as applicable) can help bolster the veracity of your request:

  • Photographs of any evidence of physical violence, such as bruising
  • Copies of any related police reports
  • Eyewitness testimony from anyone who witnessed examples of the abuse
  • Copies of all relevant financial documents (if you are also requesting financial relief, which is known as Emergency Family Maintenance)

Step 10: Have a Safety Plan in Place

Every family that’s been breached by one spouse’s domestic violence is as unique as every other family, but they all share the common thread of living with fear. In fact, the unspoken threat of abuse is sometimes more terrifying than the abuse itself. Formulating a safety plan can help you muster the courage and commitment you need to leave when the time comes:

  • Identify a support system that you trust (whether this is one person or many). 
  • Alert your support system to what you’re going through. Hiding domestic violence won’t do anyone any good, and it could end tragically. 
  • Include whoever is in your support system in your emergency plans and coordinate your efforts.
  • Keep some cash, an extra set of car keys, and any necessary medications in a small, easily accessible bag that you can grab on the fly. You can also store a change of clothing and other necessities for you and your children in a prearranged safe space.
  • Formulate a plan and stick to it. Once you’ve decided that you need an emergency plan, don’t change your mind when an emergency arises. You have an emergency plan for a reason. 
  • Flee to your prearranged safe space (at the home of your friend, family member, confidante, or anyone else whom you trust to help keep you and your children safe).

You Need an Experienced Protective Orders Lawyer in Annapolis on Your Side

If you are living with domestic violence in your home, Patrick Crawford at the Law Office of Patrick Crawford in Annapolis is a dedicated and compassionate protective orders attorney who is committed to skillfully advocating for a court order that helps ensure you and your children’s safety now and into the future. Your case is very important, so please don’t hesitate to contact us at (410) 216-7905 for more information today.

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