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Phone: (910) 341-7570

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A Wilmington Family Law Attorney Looks at Domestic Abuse in North Carolina

The lasting downturn in the U.S. economy has increased the stress on many marriages. Unfortunately, in some families this also has meant an increase in domestic violence. Some people who have lost jobs, or lost investments—or simply lost hope—respond by brutally trying to assert control over their spouse’s and children’s lives. Indeed, manipulating and controlling a spouse is the dominant pattern of most domestic abuse in North Carolina.

We tend to think of domestic violence in Wilmington or Burgaw primarily in terms of physical abuse. In reality, domestic violence can take many forms:

  • Psychological manipulation. Coercion occurs when one partner demands that his spouse account for every minute of her time. This may begin with monitoring her telephone calls and reading her e-mails. Eventually, the spouse is kept isolated from contact with friends and family, except on limited occasions the abuser can control. The abuser establishes himself as the dominant member of the household and treats all other family members as his servants or possessions.
  • Economic control. The abusive spouse insists on complete control over all the household finances. If the abused spouse is permitted to work outside the home, she is required to turn over her paycheck to the abuser. The abused spouse may not be permitted to use credit cards or her own checkbook; she will rely only on cash given her—and carefully tracked—by the abuser.
  • Emotional domination. Humiliation and intimidation are the essential components here. The abuser will tell his spouse she is worthless and unloved. Public insults and shaming can be used to degrade his spouse’s self-confidence. Threats of injury to the spouse, children, or pets are used to enforce obedience.
  • Physical abuse. This category is broad enough to include everything from assaults to marital rape. It has been estimated that domestic violence accounts for up to one-fifth of all hospital emergency room visits. Physical forms of domestic violence in North Carolina are not merely family law issues; they are criminal acts. Some 106 North Carolinians died in 2011 as a result of domestic-violence murders, and 105 were killed in 2010.

Is Divorce Inevitable?

It’s difficult for a marriage to recover from domestic abuse. Usually, an abusive relationship is a sign of a permanent breakdown in a marriage, making separation and divorce the safest course for the abused spouse and any children of the marriage. Until the divorce is final, North Carolina domestic violence protective orders may be required to prevent retaliation by the abuser.

Speaks Law Firm can help. Our skilled North Carolina domestic relations attorneys can help you file for a protection order, find you a safe place to live outside the marital home, and connect you with a support group for victims of family violence. Then we will work to get you the spousal and child support you need. Call us today at 910-341-7570 (locally) or 877-593-4233 (toll-free). We offer compassionate, discreet, and confidential assistance to all our clients.