Domestic violence is a pervasive problem in New Mexico, which ranks in the top 10 of states in which rape or homicide is prevalent.
It is never an easy time for couples who are going through a divorce. Unfortunately, it can be even more difficult to get out of a marriage in which one spouse is abusive. When domestic violence is a factor for New Mexico couples, additional steps may need to be taken.
Spousal abuse is a serious problem in New Mexico. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the state was ranked fourth in the nation for incidents of females killed by males in single victim/single offender homicides, and ninth in the country for the highest prevalence of rape. These situations may be present in some domestic violence relationships. Even if physical violence was never a factor in an abusive marriage, it’s important for victims to protect themselves by escaping their abusers. It becomes even more vital if children are involved.
How children are affected by abuse
Children can be affected for a lifetime when they grow up with emotional or physical abuse, says Safe Horizon. Girls will most often become victims of abuse in their adult relationships, while boys are more likely to abuse their own spouses and children. For this reason, it’s important to end the cycle of violence by obtaining a custody order that protects children from the abuser.
How to recognize abuse
It may be easy to recognize domestic violence if one spouse physically harms the other. However, emotional and verbal abuse may be more difficult to understand. Emotional abuse is just as damaging and frightening as physical violence, says HelpGuide. An abuser will often seem charming at first, but will gradually assert control, fear and manipulation until the victim is entirely dependent on him or her. The abuser may threaten to harm the children or destroy belongings if they are unhappy with the victim. It’s also not uncommon for the victim to be denied access to money, transportation or communication with family and friends.
The victim should take careful steps to leave an abusive marriage. These include:
- Creating an escape plan and rehearsing it with a trusted person
- Storing emergency items in a safe place, such as cash, clothing, documents and other belongings
- Reporting physical injuries to authorities
- Memorizing emergency phone numbers and addresses
Law enforcement and advocacy groups may also be able to help with obtaining a protection order, which can be beneficial in protecting one’s legal rights.
Getting help from an attorney
During this difficult time, it is important to have people you can trust on your side. A family law attorney with experience in domestic violence cases can protect your rights.