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Abuse and Divorce

Posted on December 7th, 2012 by The Red Headed Lawyer

I don’t often write personal accounts about my clients, for many reasons, not the least of which is confidentiality. But today I have an up-lifting story to tell you which is all about rising from the ruins of a shattered marriage, putting on your boots on a daily basis and doing what you need to do to rebuild not only yourself but the lives of your children. More than 25 years ago, I represented a woman I’ll call Luisa. She was trapped in an extremely abusive marriage, she was a low wage-earner and she had three children. Over a period of several years, she would make an appointment, come in for a divorce, then as soon as the case was filed, promptly call to cancel the case. Her husband was going to change, she said. He was sorry he beat her and would never do it again. This happened at least three times. This is so typical of an abusive relationship, as I learned from her case. The abused spouse goes back an average of 17 times. I was sure I would see her on the pages of the newspaper as a homicide victim at some point.

Finally, one day she called and told me she needed an appointment for a divorce. “Luisa,” I said, “we’ve been through this before. Are you sure you want to do this? I know you don’t have the money to file for divorce again.” “No,” she said, “I got counseling. I now know that it wasn’t my fault. Before, he would convince me that if I just didn’t do this or did do that, he wouldn’t have to beat me. Now I know it is not my fault.”

We filed the divorce, and her husband did everything possible to try to get her back. He cajoled her. He threatened her. She told him with great courage and conviction, “Do what you need to do, but never, never, never, no matter what happens, will I stay married to you. I am done with you.” He responded by trying to kill her and the 3 children, but through a fortunate set of circumstances he was not able to harm them. He was tried and convicted of attempted murder and served many years in prison.

A few days ago she called and brought me up to date on her family. Her oldest son, who is 26, has a good paying job and has already purchased his own home. One daughter is almost finished with a master’s degree in education, and the other daughter is just finishing her first year of college. And, Luisa, with her wonderful heart and great courage, is adopting a tiny CPS baby.

She made me feel like a part of her story, because she said, if I hadn’t worked with her on the divorce, neither she nor her kids would be in the good place they are in today. I thanked her for that, but I will take one bit from her story of courage and strength. That all goes to her.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you the “moral” of this story, which is true, except for Luisa’s name, but I will ask you to remember this as you go about your life. If you are an abused woman, there is hope and there is a light at the end of that tunnel. If you know of an abused woman, share this with her.