Unfortunately, some people to go to extremes if their spouse no longer wishes to remain married. Simply agreeing to a divorce may mean that they have lost control of a relationship that was likely abusive and they seek to punish their spouse. Many times their action results in tragedy.


In a Chicago suburb, a woman who had been seeking a divorce from her allegedly abusive husband was recently found dead in the couple’s home. The husband, 47-year old Taft Hayden, Jr., alleged that his wife, Mary, age 42, had fallen and hit her head according to police and his 911 call.


Police, however, were undoubtedly immediately suspicious when they arrived at the Hayden home where they found the dead woman nude and with her left eye swollen shut. Blood was found on a leg of a glass table, shattered in the incident, as well as on a washing machine and in the bedroom. A pathologist found multiple skull fractures on Ms. Hayden and determined that these were not consistent with Mr. Hayden’s assertion that his wife had fallen.


Court records indicated that this was not the first reported incidence of violence at the Hayden home. Mr. Hayden had also been charged with domestic battery in 2008 but the charges had been dropped. Ms. Hayden had filed for divorce but the couple may still have been living together. The couple did have two children, ages 10 and 8, who were home when police arrived. There was no indication that the children had witnessed the incident or were able to give any statements.


Causes of Domestic Abuse


Domestic abuse is a major problem among many married or unmarried couples and has a variety of causes. As many as one-third of women in the US can expect to experience domestic violence at some point in their lives. Alcohol and drug abuse is to blame for violent behavior in many cases though deeper issues may be the underlying cause. Violent behavior can be a learned response as it is not uncommon for abusive spouses to come from families with parents who were abusive to each other and who may have been victimized themselves. As a result, abusers see violence as a method of controlling their spouse or a contentious situation and view women as not be respected or valued. Similarly, women who were victimized as children are more likely to end up in abusive relationships.


There are also many reports of returning armed service personnel who have been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) where violent behavior in response to certain situations or stress is not uncommon.


As in the Hayden case, a man with abusive tendencies may feel threatened or disrespected by his wife who is seeking to end the relationship and likely gain custody of the children, an act out of the control of the male partner. If the spouse has been ordered to leave the home by a court order, he or she may react violently to being forced from the home.


Warning Signs of Partner Abuse


There are warning signs of potential domestic abuse that any spouse or partner should be aware of and may consider taking some form of action. A spouse who is obsessed about control or who takes it to extremes can be a sign of deeper problems to come. This behavior can include a spouse who makes demeaning comments, restricts the activities of the other spouse or who throws violent tantrums. When the behavior escalates to physically injuring the other partner, or if the verbal abuse becomes excessive, then it is time to seek counseling or take other measures.


What Can an Abused Partner Do?


Spouses or individuals who feel imminently threatened by their partners should seek to leave the home and seek shelter in a local facility for abused women and seek a restraining order. There are battered woman’s shelters and intervention programs sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Health and other domestic violence programs.


If you are seeking court protection, you can file a complaint in court and request a restraining order if you can demonstrate a substantial likelihood of immediate danger of abuse. Any judge can issue a temporary order if the court is closed or you are unable to personally appear in court.


Consider retaining a Boston divorce lawyer if you are the victim of domestic abuse. If the danger is imminent, your divorce attorney can help you obtain a restraining order. The police will serve the abuser with the order and be present at your home to ensure the abuser leaves the home. You will have a hearing within 10 days after its issuance and it is vital that you have legal representation to protect your interests, especially if the abusing partner has legal counsel. The order can require the abuser to stay away from you, to surrender all firearms and firearm licenses, and to award you temporary support and custody of your children.