A victim of spousal abuse may face further confrontations with their abuser in the future. This is because many abusers follow a pattern of controlling behavior. Those with minor children from an abuser should be on guard for a possible custody challenge. Therefore, victims of abuse in Pennsylvania should not hesitate to seek legal and other assistance.
Mental health professionals have stressed that it is not unusual for a former abuser to continue to assert control over the victim. This may be an attempt to re-enter the victim’s life as a friend, lover or confidant. The abuser may seek reconciliation, and once this is accomplished, they could revert to the same pattern of control as before.
When the parties are parents, a method of control is to seek custody of the children, despite a past history of abuse. A common tactic is to attack the custodial parent by badmouthing the parent to the children and third parties. Inevitably, some take the allegations of bad parenting to the next level and seek to have the victim’s parental rights curtailed.
These same medical professionals point out that when seeking custody, the abuser is often more successful than many would believe. Some estimates are as high as 70 percent of contested cases. However, proposed federal legislation is attempting to reform custody situations in abuse cases. Pending legislation would require family law courts to resolve the abuse allegations prior to considering other factors for custody.
A custodial parent and victim of spousal abuse may consult with a family law attorney to prepare for a possible challenge to custody. Meeting with the attorney right away will allow the victim to develop a strategy and build evidence in the event a hearing occurs.