Tonight on air I get to discuss domestic violence, which research suggests occurs at least once in most divorces– and I do sincerely mean divorces in all socio-economic classes. Many incidents go unreported, however, and this is not just a female issue. I cannot tell you how many men are ashamed to discuss the violence they have endured.

The biggest problem with this issue is that there are often no medical reports, pictures, witnesses or police reports. This means in court we are left with a he-said, she-said dilemma. Realizing that it is normal for tension to run high when a marriage is dissolving, most couples in my experience will often agree to a consent stay-away order, often without a finding of wrong doing in order to protect a person’s ability to obtain security clearance or minimize any impact on someone’s record.

The legal system encourages people to seek anger management classes and will order supervised visits to ensure a child’s safety when necessary. Rarely, however, will visitation completely be terminated, and most orders expire after one year unless the original order is violated. In most of my cases, these incidents wind up being the final wake-up call that the family needs to accept just how dsyfunctional things have gotten and that a separation is truly what is best. Too often I have heard people say they should have left sooner– that they let “minor” incidents go in order to keep the family together for the sake of the children.

Unfortunately, without some major intervention, bad incidents usually just get worse, and it is well documented that exposing children to unsafe conditions can have a detrimental affect that will last a lifetime. As soon as one person starts to feel threatened or believes that s/he is unsafe in any way, it is important to gather information as to what your legal options are and seek some psychological counseling. Simply hoping things will improve is not an option when domestic violence creeps into your relationship– love is supposed to be a nurturing gift, not one that leaves you with a black eye or worse.

By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.