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Domestic violence affects diverse groups

Even though it may seem more common in certain areas or demographic groups, domestic violence can happen to anyone. One Washington lawmaker, state Rep. Elizabeth Scott, is among the most outspoken advocates for domestic violence victims in the area, not only because she is a politician, but also because she was herself a victim. The 47-year-old woman recently shared her personal abuse story for the first time in public, proving that any relationship has the potential to become dangerous for its members.

Scott was teaching in China when she met her husband, who was also an American instructor. Even though the relationship began in a positive way, the woman's interaction with her husband soon began to devolve into violent arguments. Scott described her life as a constant attempt to avoid conflict; she was constantly afraid that her husband would have another emotional explosion and harm her again. At some point, the man stopped apologizing altogether after abusive episodes.

After six years in the marriage, the woman packed up her belongings in her minivan and drove to her parents' house with her toddler. Thanks to journals that she had kept throughout the relationship, she was able to provide hard evidence of the abuse and torment she suffered during the marriage; as a result, she gained full custody of her child. Now, the woman is happily married to her second husband, having just celebrated her 11th wedding anniversary. The couple also has another child.

The woman's speech was part of a comprehensive effort associated with Domestic Violence Awareness month, celebrated in October. Victims of domestic violence should know that they have legal options. In this case, for example, the woman was able to use evidence collected during her marriage to secure a favorable custody decision. Qualified attorneys and other advocates can help victims escape their abusers and begin new, safer lives.

Source:  www.heraldnet.com, "State lawmaker shares personal story of abuse" Julie Muhlstein, Oct. 04, 2013

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