University of Illinois researchers conducted a study to determine how different types of violence experienced by women during marriage affected their ability to co-parent during the first year they were separated from their spouse. Studies have shown that the first year of separation is particularly dangerous for women who were in abusive relationships. During this time, many important child custody decisions are made, including how the children will be managed.
Researchers determined that the type of violence women experienced during the marriage directly correlated to the circumstances they would find themselves in after the separation. Situational violence is described as an episode where arguments intensify into violence. Coercive controlling violence describes behavior in which the abuser constantly uses tactics such as isolation from family and friends or controlling finances to dominate their spouse.
The studies showed that women who experienced coercive controlling violence were much more likely to continue to suffer from the abusive actions of their spouses following separation. These women were also far less likely to receive positive communications from their spouse regarding the children and had little co-parenting support. The findings also indicated that these women had more unpredictability in their relationships with their spouses. Circumstances could seem fine for a period of time and then fall apart without warning depending on the mood and actions of the spouse.
Those who are experiencing this level of abuse at the hands of a separated spouse may feel frustrated and helpless in regards to their situation. The legal system's processes can be complicated, and the abused spouse might feel as though there is no hope for relief. Consulting a child custody attorney may make difference in cases like these. The attorney may be able to find solutions to manage both the threat of the spouse and the needs of the children.