Emotional Abuse as Grounds for Illinois Fault Divorce: Taking it One Step at A Time
Domestic violence often leaves evidence of physical trauma, but yet another form of abuse can cut even deeper. If left unchecked, long-term emotional abuse can lead to feelings of diminished self-worth and loss of independence for the victimized spouse. By achieving these results, the abusive spouse exercises abnormal control.The cycle begins with a simple criticism and then builds. Often the abuser will break the cycle with what appears to be a sincere apology, but both partners soon find themselves caught up in the cycle of verbal abuse once again.Denial can also be an underlying factor of years of abuse. If you can truthfully answer yes to any of the following questions, you may have already taken the first step in breaking the cycle of abuse. Be honest, take a few minutes on each question, write down your answers as they pertain to your situation, you may be surprised at your answers.
- Does your spouse maintain total control of the family finances?
- Does your spouse place you on an allowance?
- Does your spouse restrict your access to bank accounts?
- Does your spouse control all consumer purchases?
- Does your spouse constantly belittle or criticise you?
- Does your spouse isolate you from personal and professional relationships?
- Does your spouse threaten you with bodily harm?
As dramatic as it may sound, the second step to removing yourself from the situation is to plan your “escape”. Following these guidelines could ensure your safety:
- Alert local authorities, family, friends and employer;
- Don’t break the news to your spouse alone, bring someone with you;
- Arrange law enforcement escort when removing personal items from the home;
- Use the “buddy system” when walking to and from you car;
- Keep temporary living arrangements secret.
The third step is preparing for legal action. Document the abuse by compiling any of the following:
- Domestic disturbance reports;
- Psychological or therapy records;
- Witness statements supporting allegations of abuse.
The fourth and final step is to contact an experienced divorce attorney to discuss your options under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Finding out more about your legal recourse may place you in a better position to take that first step.