As-Salam ‘Alaikum S,
I am very grateful to you for writing in. I pray you are finding comfort from friends and family at this time of hardship. I pray your child is doing ok, that Allah (swt) protect you, comfort you, and that you feel His (swt) great presence.
The level of your domestic violence has escalated to a very unsafe level. At this point, it would not be safe for you to live with your husband. I do not know the details of your story, but usually women do not call the police on their husband unless they fear of great bodily injury or death to themselves or to their child. If this is the case in your situation, you need to live with family members or find a safe place to live and request support from your community and family. This is a separate issue apart from the question of divorce. Your first priority is getting you and your child safe.
If, and only if, you can truly establish safety for yourself and your child, it is in the best interest of the child, of your soul and your husband’s soul to get genuine, quality family counseling while you are living separately.
The discussion of divorce does not have to take place right now. Worry about the later. First, get safe, and then get counseling. If your husband does not want counseling, then get counseling for yourself and your child so that you can heal from your trauma.
Be especially cautious when you husband gets out of jail. It is likely that his perception of what happened will not match yours. Feelings and emotions are the fuel behind domestic violence. Distorted perceptions are behind those feelings and emotions. Unfortunately, domestic violence often takes a life of its own and becomes a pattern of behavior among couples who engage in it. This is why you must get counseling for yourself. Both you and your husband have acquired patterns of thinking, perceiving, responding, and behaving that will reinforce and perpetuate this cycle if you do not break your own conditioning. If you divorce, or if your husband does not want counseling, you will still want to change your own patterns of behaviors to prevent yourself from entering into another domestic violence situation.
When you husband is released from jail, he will not be able to think clearly or objectively. He will most likely feel betrayed, but you did the right thing. You took the steps that you could, using the tools that were available to you, and you made sure that you and your child are safe. I just want you to be warned about the possibility that your husband might not be able to process objectively what has happened.
The fact that he is violent and is not able to take responsibility for his own actions and behaviors is evident. He is caught up in a web of thoughts and beliefs that reinforce his habit of deflecting responsibility and accountability away from him. This may be his first lesson from the society telling him that he must change. So, he may be more violent when he gets out. Just take appropriate precautions.
Focus more on creating stability for you and your child than on the divorce. There is no rush. Focus on healing and changing your own behaviors and patterns that increase the probability of your being in a domestic violence situation. The reason I am telling you to postpone worrying about divorce is because lasting healing from this condition will require that you slow down on everything reactive. Feelings and emotions are strong now. There is more confusion and chaos ahead. Work through only one thing at a time and take things step by step.
The first order of business is getting safe. The second order of business is getting stable. The third order of business is facing the trial. Please walk this walk with a balanced professional psychotherapist. You will need unbiased, objective emotional and practical support from a professional to help you get clear about your thoughts and actions.
You need to make decisions about what you will say in court. You will have prosecutors messing with your head, and your husband’s public defender trying to shame and embarrass you. This is the nature of the criminal justice system. Only you know what is truly best for you and your child, but when you get caught up in the criminal justice system, you turn your life over to the system. Sometimes, the prosecutors will tell you that they will have Child Protective Services to take your child away from you if you do not testify against your husband. Sometimes, this is clearly right, and other times it is manipulative as their agenda is often to win the court case when you agenda is likely to act in the best interest of your child.
With that said, if you can afford an attorney for yourself, you might want to get some legal advice as well. You will definitely want to meet with a psychotherapist. At the very least, clear your head. For now, don’t burden yourself with all the paperwork, drama, and processes of divorce. If you want a divorce, you can focus on that after the trial. You have a clear idea in your heart and mind about that later as well.
The fourth order of business is really working in depth on this actual root cause of domestic violence with a counselor. Then, after you have received a good amount of counseling, you can begin to look at your marriage overall and decide if you want to remain married. Hopefully, your husband will be a participant in this mutual process if you take this slow, cautious approach that is open to changing behaviors attitudes, and perceptions. Remember, in many cases, substances such as alcohol or methamphetamine are involved in families with domestic violence. If your husband or you use these substances, you will want to receive additional counseling to help you overcome these kinds of addictions. Take things slowly, and take them one day at a time.
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