“My spouse hits me. What should I do?”
Sadly, that’s another common question.
There are a lot of things you can do. They may include, among other things:
- enroll the violent spouse in an anger management (and/or substance abuse and/or mental health treatment program as appropriate)
- encourage the violent spouse to leave the home temporarily
- go to a domestic violence shelter (800-500-1119 throughout Florida and 800-799-SAFE nationwide) for safety planning and counseling for yourself (and your children, if appropriate under the circumstances)
- remove yourself (and, if feasible, your children) to a safe haven temporarily
- permanently relocate
- file for divorce of your spouse and custody of your children
- seek an injunction for protection against domestic violence (also called an order of protection)
- contact the Department of Children & Families (if the violent spouse has abused you in the presence of your children and / or has abused your children)
- call the police
- sue your spouse for damages for your injuries
- consult a divorce lawyer (also called family, matrimonial, marital or domestic relations lawyer) to learn more about your children’s and your rights
That’s what you can do. What you should do, however, is a very difficult and complex question that depends enormously on all the circumstances of your family.
In some cases, not doing anything can have extremely dire, even fatal consequences. Your first and foremost concern should always be your children’s and your safety.
In other cases, however, rash, impulsive, overblown responses may end up doing permanent emotional and financial damage to all the members of a viable family passing through a terrible but temporary crisis situation. Certain responses can’t be taken back – any more than the violence can be undone.