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Focus on separation or divorce as domestic violence catalysts

Domestic violence can have many triggers, all of which can pose a serious risk to victimized individuals within the relationship. But with domestic violence murders on the rise, it is worth noting that a common trigger for these violent acts is divorce, separation or the breakup of a romantic relationship.

And violence can also be a catalyst for the failure of these relationships. Roughly one in five divorces is prompted by violence, and three-fourths of emergency room visits by battered women occur after a separation has occurred in their most recent relationship.

Although walking out on an abuser certainly seems like the safest route, there can be complicating factors -- none more serious than the heightened risk of injury. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, women who leave their abusers face a 75 percent greater risk of suffering a severe injury or fatality. The most dangerous period is in the two weeks following a divorce filing or separation.

To minimize these risks, an exit strategy is crucial -- even more so when children are involved. Women in Georgia and across the country need to line up a place to stay for the few weeks following their decision to end the relationship. It's better when you take everything you will need with you, eliminating the risks of confronting the abuser back at home.

And delivering the news of separation is best done in a public place where abuse isn't easily enacted. It is also wise, note the experts in this area, to make sure you aren't alone when you are leaving or going to work or visiting other places where crowds aren't likely.

While a restraining order can provide some comfort, it doesn't guarantee that your abuser will respect those boundaries. If you do get one, don't be fooled into thinking that it will keep you safe with absolute certainty.

If the situation is extreme, consider staying in an abused women's shelter. These shelters are experienced in handling dangerous situations and will provide you the greatest degree of safety during these tenuous times.

Source: Washington Times, "Domestic violence murders increasing; how to protect yourself," Myra Fleischer, Oct. 8, 2012

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