Domestic Violence Before Marriage Should Be A Deal Breaker
I was sworn in as a lawyer in the State of South Carolina, twenty-four years ago last week. I began my career at the Solicitor’s Office and continued my now twenty-one year private practice largely in Family Court. I have had many disturbing conversations with victims of domestic violence over the years. I have heard countless tales of assaults, injuries, rants, tantrums and even murders. I have looked at graphic, disturbing pictures of injuries that cannot heal correctly. I have seen a woman who was blinded by her abuser.
But I think maybe the most disturbing stories I hear are from women who had the chance to NOT marry their abuser.
In the past thirty days, which included Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I have spoken to three women who described horrific domestic violence, which included broken bones that occurred during their courtship with their husbands, prior to the date of their marriage. And yet, for some unfathomable reason, all three of them married their abuser anyway. Now, after many years, they have left the relationship and are in a divorce situation. They all had the chance to avoid the abuse that they have endured for years and to which they have now exposed children.
Domestic violence is real. Domestic violence is dangerous and lethal. Ignoring it will not make it go away. If it exists during your courtship, it will continue, and worsen, in your marriage. This is just a fact.
If you have married your abuser, leave. Leave now. Do not worry about the house, or your clothes, or anything but your safety and that of your children, if you have any. Go to a shelter. There is help for you.
If you are the abuser, you know it. Get help. The STEAR Program at the Family Counseling Center on Shockley Ferry Road is a good place to start.
Human relationships are complex and filled with tension. They are many challenges in the best marriages. But violence should be a deal breaker, even if you have set a date and ordered the wedding dress.
A related blog I wrote on Domestic Violence can be found here: Domestic Violence Blog