June 5, 2013

Arias Trial Should Bring Domestic Violence to the Forefront

Day 353 - West Midlands Police - Tackling Domestic ViolenceAs a former prosecutor, I have been mesmerized by the testimony in the Jody Arias murder trial.  Jody Arias is accused of killing her boyfriend.  Jody Arias’ defense is that she is a victim of domestic abuse and acted in self-defense.  Regardless of whether you believe Ms. Arias or not, the attention brought by the media circus surrounding this trial is incredibly valuable to shine the light on domestic abuse.

Educating people on the violence and prevalence of domestic abuse is an endeavor near and dear to my heart.  As a prosecutor, I handled countless cases of domestic abuse.  So many people are unaware of the violence (that domestic assaults often last hours, if not days), and its prevalence (it happens in homes you would never suspect).  At its core, however, is that domestic violence occurs between two people involved in a relationship where there is an imbalance of power.  It is this imbalance of power that makes the victim-spouse unable or unwilling to leave the abusive relationship.

My knowledge of the prevalence of some sort of violence, threat of violence, or unhealthy balance of power in relationships is one of the reasons I see the value in Collaborative Divorce.  Whether a person suffering in a relationship with domestic violence should use the Collaborative divorce process is debatable.  Concerns arise because the Collaborative process is based upon the couple meeting together with professionals in a safe, open and respectful manner to generate options, negotiate and resolve issues in the dissolution of their relationship:  this method can be unproductive or even detrimental where there is a threat of violence.

What the Collaborative Process does bring, however, is the concept that divorce is so much more than a legal process.  Divorce is an emotional, financial, geographical and legal process.  Collaborative uses other professionals, coaches, Mental Health Professionals, child specialists and financial specialists to help the parties plan for future communications, co-parenting and financial independence.

Family law practitioners should recognize the values and assets used in Collaborative Process that can be applied to a divorce with domestic violence as an issue even if the Collaborative process cannot be used.  The use of a coach, the use of a child specialist, the use of a financial specialist should be a tool to help the victims of domestic violence transition into a healthier and more peaceful life.   Perhaps more than other clients, victims of domestic violence are in desperate need for tools to help them move forward independent of their abusers.  These professionals can provide incalculable benefits to help them achieve this result.

Kimberly Miller,JD, MA, LAMFT

Author disclaimer submitted here with what you want to have at the bottom of each of your posts.

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