How to Navigate a System  Used by an Abuser to Control

Battered mothers tell me about the rage they harbor over their perpetrators use of the system to batter them. And when I ask if it is anything like what was felt when beaten verbally, emotionally or physically, they usually say, “no.” “It’s not at all like that,” they claim.

In fact, they tell me that anger is not what is felt. It is fear...violation...and severe emotional pain. I believe this is exactly what would be expected in the moment of an altercation when you are a victim of domestic violence.


Using the System Is No Different Than Using the Fist

When awaiting trial or preparing for it, many of the same feelings of intense fear emerge. The victim knows that the emotional abuse in divorce is no different than the use of his fist or his verbal licks at home. It’s merely a weapon of assault used to batter and control them.

I have even heard battered mothers tell me about the security they feel in knowing that their perpetrators are consumed by abusing them through the courts. They say that knowing this alleviates their concerns of his resorting to more primitive means of assault. “At least I don’t have to worry about him coming after me or having me killed if he’s abusing me through the court.”

This recognition reveals to me that on a very deep level they realize that the court is merely another weapon of attack...another means toward control.

Court as Fist Versus Court as Protector

I believe that the rage concerning their perpetrators use of the system to batter them has more to do with their misplaced feelings over unfulfilled expectations regarding the system.

These women come to the system already beaten up. And they expect the system to pick them up, wrap them in a warm blanket and keep them safe from their abusers.

But, the fact is that family court is not designed to perform in this fashion. The goal of divorce court is not to protect the victim; it’s to separate people and property. And because it gives people the right to fight over their property, it gives people the right to continue fighting.

Children, in case you are wondering, fall under the rubric of property...at least in family court. So don’t be surprised when your perpetrator exudes a sense of entitlement to fight over the children.

Turing Your Rage Toward Serving You

How then can battered mothers best prosper as they navigate the family court system? This is a question that challenges those entangled in the system, because the belief is that “you’re just in a system.” The implication being: hold your breath, wait until it’s over and hope for the best.

However, if you turn that rage into productive energy, you can sail through the system and come out the other end whole and with your rights and liberties intact. Your challenge is how! Let that be your primary focus. Discover how to become the warrior you need to be to accomplish the goals you seek in divorce court.

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