Separation is often fraught with conflict. So, you may think it is pretty obvious that arguments are going to happen otherwise you wouldn't be going through separation right? …. but are you aware that you may actually be committing family domestic violence and not even realise it?
You may think family domestic violence is a physical attack on someone ONLY but that is not the case. Abuse comes in many forms such as; emotional, financial, sexual, social, verbal, spiritual, elder/child, harassment, technological, psychological or exposing a child to family violence, etc. A full list can be found here
It may not have been just during the lead up to the separation, but you may realise there has been family domestic violence occurring throughout your entire relationship!
Listed below are many forms of family domestic violence:
Your mind may be racing now, having flashbacks to past arguments, thinking about the times you may have;
Smashed your ex’s phone, punched a hole in the wall or damaged your ex’s car in the heat of an argument. This is physical abuse.
Stopped your ex from going out when they wanted to, told them they can’t wear certain clothes or called them derogatory names. This is emotional abuse.
Not given your ex any access to money, taken your ex’s money off them when they got paid or not given visibility of how much money is in the bank. This is financial abuse.
Constantly ridiculed your ex for being overweight, told them they are stupid or told them they are useless. This is verbal abuse.
Frequently driving past to see if your ex is home or who may be visiting, following them or constantly calling or texting them. This is harassment and stalking.
It may make you feel confused as you may have grown up seeing your own parents in conflict and think it was normal how they resolved arguments.
There are many people who are not even aware they have been a victim of domestic violence until they are advised by their lawyer, mental health professionals or other victims.
You may be shocked after separation that you are served with an apprehended violence order (AVO) and feel unjustly accused which fuels your anger.
STOP! Don’t make matters worse, become informed on what family violence is according to the Australian Family Law Act – Preliminary Part 1 – 4AB Definition of Family Violence.
Gain anger management strategies and techniques via an anger management course and minimise conflict through a parenting after separation course to demonstrate your commitment to being a good role model for your kids. Children can adjust to separation in two loving homes, but it is enduring conflict that causes a lot of damage and impact to their mental health, behaviour and development.
Key ways to minimise conflict are;
Separate how you feel about the breakup from your co-parenting responsibilities
Learn what your hot buttons are so you know when you are triggered
Understand your instinctive reptilian brain response when under threat – fight, flight or freeze
Don’t buy into drama, stay calm and walk away
Think of who your ultimate inspiration is and ask yourself in crisis “what would my ultimate
Don’t react, take time to think through a response which will minimise conflict
Be child focused, how does it affect them, not how it affects you
Don’t be angry, be informed, so you can become a problem solver, future focused, and create a happy life.
Become familiar with the Family Law Act 1975 - Definition of Family Violence below to ensure that you know if your behaviour is unlawful;
Author – Cheryl Duffy, Divorce Coach, Mediator & Author