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Escaping an Abusive Marriage


The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence gathered statistics on domestic violence (DV), nationally, and by state, and those statistics may be surprising.

The statistics reveal that if you are a victim of DV, you are not alone. Over 30 percent of women and 25 percent of men experience domestic violence at some point in their lifetime. If escaping the marriage brings you trepidation when you think about how your spouse will react to your desire to leave, an attorney may be able to help.

Domestic Violence is a Serious Problem 

The facts surrounding violence in the home are horrifying. Although it is often a secret kept under wraps from friends, coworkers and family, the physical and emotional scars can last far beyond a violent episode. Although DV is underreported, here’s what we do know:

  • Only about one-third of victims seek medical attention after an attack;
  • Women between 18-24 are the most frequent victims of DV;
  • In addition to physical abuse, stalking is often a component of DV, and three out of five victims of physical abuse are also stalked;
  • Nearly 20 percent of DV involves weapons of some sort;
  • More than half of DV victims’ jobs are affected by the abuse;
  • Children occupy nearly three-fourths of violent homes.

Long-Term Impacts 

Beyond the physical aspects of this abuse, the emotional consequences of domestic violence can be devastating, and include the following:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder;
  • Long-term depression and/or anxiety;
  • Substance abuse;
  • Suicide.

Know this if you are Considering Divorce 

In Maryland, cruel treatment of a spouse and/or vicious conduct constitutes legitimate grounds for divorce. You may need to have a protective order issued requiring your spouse to keep his or her distance from you and the children. Additionally, your new address could be shielded. This means that all court documents will have it blacked out in order to keep it secret from your spouse. If you have documented your injuries over time, it will be convincing evidence in any divorce proceeding. Even with overwhelming evidence of spousal abuse, however, the court will have to consider whether or not visitation with minor children is in their best interest.

Protecting Yourself Throughout the Process 

If DV is a serious problem, memorize this number: 1-800-799-SAFE. It is the National Domestic Violence Hotline. They can advise you as to local resources and agencies that offer protection to victims of DV. In the meanwhile, absolutely keep your escape plans hidden. Phone numbers, fliers, or web pages researching DV could all trigger a violent episode if discovered by your abuser. Additionally, experts recommend:

  • Having a secret escape plan in case of emergency. Be able to hastily grab essentials and make a quick get-away if necessary;
  • Plan your permanent escape when you have a block of time where your abuser will not be around to intervene;
  • Ditch your cell phone so you cannot be tracked;
  • Try to amass cash or get your own credit card—but have mail deliveries made to a PO box to protect your plans;
  • File charges against your abuser.

Seek Legal Assistance 

You need an attorney who is both empathetic to your situation, and experienced in Maryland divorce laws. At the Law Office of Hasson D. Barnes, LLC, our knowledgeable team will listen to you and provide the legal assistance you need in this precarious situation. Get in touch today for a confidential consultation in our Baltimore office.



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