Post-separation domestic violence
Contrary to what one might hope, breaking up is not always a guarantee of safety for victims of domestic violence, at least in the short term.
Indeed, violence can turn into post-separation violence and continue to have very significant consequences in the lives of victims and their children.
This happens when the woman makes the decision to end the relationship and she is starting a process of reorganizing her life and recovering her power. This period is defined by strategies of domination and control from the former spouse that are transformed, multiplied and ongoing, thus exposing the woman and her children to a greater risk of harm to their safety (psychological and physical), up to and including homicide.
Post-separation violence can have different goals:
- Convincing the victim to resume the relationship, continue controlling;
- Preventing the victim from asserting their rights;
- Taking revenge for what is perceived as an ultimate insult;
- Or simply having the last word.
It can then be translated as:
Manipulation and threats to bring the victim back
- Attempting to manipulate the victim by showing himself/herself in his/her best light, by expressing love, sorrow and remorse;
- Initiating a therapeutic journey without any real intention to change;
- Blackmailing and threatening (seeking custody of children, abandoning children, cutting off money, disappearing, committing suicide, etc.) ;
- Manipulating children or loved ones to advocate for him/her.
Harassment and surveillance
- Monitoring the comings and goings of the victim and children;
- Contacting the victim continuously or repeatedly;
- Contacting the woman’s family and friends asking for information about her;
- Questioning the children about their mother’s new life.
Violence through legal proceedings
- Unduly multiplying or prolonging separation proceedings;
- Making false accusations (of violence, parental alienation, etc.)
- Failing to comply with no contact orders;
- Manipulating, harassing or intimidating counsellors;
- Prosecuting the victim for defamation;
- Filing repeated complaints against the counsellors involved in the case.
Economic violence and voluntary impoverishment
- Withholding child support for unreasonable reasons;
- Initiating unnecessary legal proceedings to increase the victim’s attorney’s fees;
- Challenging or refusing to pay his/her share of the common costs;
Parental role control
- Requiring reports or photos of children beyond reason;
- Imposing educational strategies while the child is not under their care;
- Challenging the parenting skills of the victim;
- Manipulating or alienating the child against the victim;
- Manipuler ou aliéner l’enfant contre la victime ;
- Not returning the child at the scheduled time;
- Imposing his/her presence during the victim’s custody time.
Escalation of physical violence
- In a context of domestic violence, a break-up can increase the risk of serious injury or death for the victim and their children.
Source: 2nd Stage Shelter Alliance, https://www.alliancemh2.org