Fighting Back: ‘I had to get out or I wasn’t going to be alive for my kids’

While the criminal justice system aims to provide safeguards and accountability, the majority of domestic violence incidents are never reported to police. Of the cases that do result in an arrest, more than half are dismissed in the courts.

Feature (New Hampshire)

Alyssa M. Dandrea
Concord Monitor (NH)
February 4, 2019

Tags: Domestic Violence

Organizations mentioned/involved: New Hampshire Legal Assistance (NHLA)


Victims turn to the family court system in effect to end all ties with their abuser, but the process can trigger memories of past trauma and bring them back to those moments of crisis. An initial court appearance may be the first time a woman has seen her abuser in months and she may be asked to consider mediation to resolve the case – something she knows will put her in danger. Abusers view the family courts as the ideal mechanism to continue to exert coercive control over their victims – even if through seemingly subtle ways.

That is especially true in parenting and divorce proceedings that can persist years after separation, and it is one of the many reasons an average victim may leave and return to an abusive relationship seven times before permanently separating.

“A lot of clients say that’s worse. They say, ‘I never should have left’ or ‘I’m just going to go back.’ And, that’s exactly what the abuser is counting on,” said Erin Jasina of New Hampshire Legal Assistance. “They’re counting on the fact that they’ll be able to wear the victim down, threaten them and terrorize them to the point that they will return.”