Spousal Abuse Cases

by


Note: The pronoun “she” will be used throughout this chapter because the large majority of abused spouses are women.

INTRODUCTION

Legislative History

The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) is a United States federal law (Title IV, sec. 40001-40703 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, H.R. 3355) signed as Pub.L. 103-322 by President Bill Clinton on September 13, 1994 (codified in part at 42 U.S.C. sections 13701 through 14040.

The Act provides 1.6 billion towards the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, imposes automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted, and allows civil redress in cases prosecutors choose to leave un-prosecuted. The Act also establishes the Office on Violence Against Women within the Department of Justice.

In 2000, the Supreme Court in United States v. Morrison struck down the VAWA provision allowing women the right to sue their attackers in federal court. By a 5 to 4 majority, the court’s conservative wing overturned provisions as exceeding the federal government’s powers under the Commerce Clause.

VAWA was reauthorized by bipartisan majorities in Congress in 2000, again in December 2005, and signed by President George W. Bush. The Act’s 2012 renewal was opposed by conservative Republicans who objected to extending the Act’s protections to same-sex couples and to provisions allowing battered undocumented immigrants to claim temporary visas. Ultimately, after a long legislative battle, VAWA was again reauthorized in 2013.

Background

Abuse, like persecution, is usually a systemic phenomenon that affects the victim in virtually every area of her life. The victim feels locked into a universe from which there is no escape. The person feels sad, lonely, anxious, fearful, and isolated. The abuser often refuses to leave the home until he feels that he no longer benefits from the relationship or when he feels his own safety is in jeopardy. The abuser works through intimidation, total control over the victim’s social, family, and professional contacts, and verbal degradation of the victim. The cruelty may be oppressively unbearable such that the victim feels humiliated, destroyed, devastated, shattered, and may ultimately consider self-harm as a means of escape.

The Cycle of Abuse

The cycle of abuse involved in domestic violence situations includes four basic stages: (1) a physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse incident; (2) followed by a “making up” period, during which the batterer may apologize for the abuse and promise that it will never happen again; (3) this leads to a period of calm during which the batterer acts as if the abuse never happened and the victim may hope the abuse is over or what occurred was aberrant behavior; (4) next comes the tension building when the batterer renews his anger and the victim feels the need to calm or appease him. Finally, the tension builds into another incident of abuse and the cycle continues in this fashion unless and until the victim is able to escape the domestic violence permanently. The quality and quantity of the abuse should be documented and if the abuser has abused others.

Immigrant Women

Immigrant women are particularly at risk for domestic violence. Due to their immigration status, they often have a more difficult time escaping abuse and feel trapped in abusive relationships because of immigration laws, language barriers, and lack of financial resources, among other things. Abusers often use their partner’s immigration status as a tool of control. In such a situation, it is common for a batterer to exert control over his partner’s immigration status in order to force her to remain in the relationship. Immigrant women often suffer higher rates of battery than United States citizens since they come from cultures that may accept domestic violence or because they have less access to legal and social services.

GOOD FAITH MARRIAGE

Full Bio-Psychosocial Evaluation

The evaluator cannot accept that the client married in good faith unless he considers the broader bio-psychosocial history of the client. Undertaking a full bio-psychosocial history also permits a summary of the client’s background, thus humanizing the client and inducing empathy into the adjudicator. It also permits the evaluator much greater insight into the circumstances and context of how the abused spouse met her partner and how the relationship developed.

Question for the Evaluation of a Good Faith Marriage

The following are some of the central questions that should be employed to gather information about how the couple became romantically involved.

1. What did you look for in the other person?

2. What values did you have in common?

3. What attracted you to him?

4. Did you feel trust, comfort, or safe intimacy?

5. What role did you have in the relationship and how did you communicate?

6. What convinced you that you should make a life-long commitment to this person?

7. What parts of his personality do you identify with?

8. What common hopes or expectations did you have about the marriage?

9. What needs did you feel your spouse filled for you?

10. To what extent does your partner’s personality or behavior resemble or differ from other close relationships in your past?

Bad Faith Marriage issues

It should be noted that a person could enter a marriage only for the purpose of obtaining lawful permanent residency status, but still endure abuse in the marriage. The evaluator is obligated to inform the client that he cannot state in the report that the marriage was entered into in good faith, but can document the issues of abuse in the marriage. The client then has the option of stopping the evaluation or allowing the evaluation to continue permitting her lawyer to determine if the forensic report should still be used as supporting evidence in the petition.

It is also noteworthy that this author has seen many cases in which couples enter into a bad faith marriage and yet later became romantically involved even having children together. This too should be carefully considered.

TYPES OF ABUSES

Background

While the main focus of the evaluation is to investigate the abuse directed toward the immigrant spouse it is also important to inquire if the abuser has behaved in this manner toward others, such as former wives, lovers, co-workers, or family members. This inquiry should be empirically based to document the full extent of the abuse, and a history of arrests should also be included.

Many evaluators prefer to ask specific questions regarding the abuses, including the 5W's (where, when, why, what, and who), however in spousal abuse cases this may yield little fruitful information as individual instances of abuse are rarely documented. Additionally, the client may collapse several instances of abuse into a single memory. However, the absence of detailed memory by the victim should not diminish the reality that abuse indeed occurred and the evaluator must faithfully reflect the client’s narrative.

The major types of abuses include: physical, emotional, psychological, verbal, sexual, financial, religious / cultural, instrumental, and child abuse.

Precursors to Abuse

Before concrete abuses occur it is often the case that the abused spouse becomes aware of subtle indications of serious problems with her husband. Most often, there is a breakdown of communication and the abusive spouse will evince anger, irritation, demean his spouse, and blame her for almost everything that goes wrong in his personal life and in the home.

This period can actually cause the spouse the most emotional harm because she will likely feel terribly confused given the erratic behaviors and unstable moods of her abuser. It is only when the abuse becomes overt that the abused spouse begins to fully understand the gravity of her situation. Additionally, the abused spouse may suffer subclinical depression and anxiety even in this early stage of the relationship.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is defined as the unwanted contact by the abusing spouse to his partner. Physical abuse may include kicking, hitting, slapping, punching, biting, grabbing, pinching, hair pulling, as well as pushing, shoving, kneeing, and shouldering. Physical abuse may be initiated through an intermediary object that is being held by the abuser, such as a stick or belt, or by an object that is no longer in contact with the abuser, such as a glass jar that is thrown at the victim.

Physical abuse can also encompass non-direct contact through control of the environment, such as prohibiting the spouse from sleeping in a bed, throwing away the victim’s clothing, setting the thermostat at a low temperature, or forcing the abused spouse to sleep outside of the home by locking the door. Most often, the abuser will act in an aggressive and menacing fashion in the victim’s presence and move about in a way that threatens and intimidates her. The woman will feel that she cannot move around freely in her own home without feeling intimidated by her husband’s hostile presence.

The abusive spouse may also have been physically aggressive with others in the community, such as his own family members, and he may even have a criminal history. Finally, threats with deadly objects should also be asked about.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is defined as any manipulation of the person’s psychological health. This may include mental cruelty, isolation, taunting, degradation, demeaning actions, teasing, withholding, countering, discounting, ordering, and abusive anger. It should also be noted that abuse based on psychological manipulation tends to be passive or indirect in nature, while coercion abuse tends to be active and direct. Emotional abuse can take a wide variety of forms a few of the more pertinent to immigration cases are outlined here.

1. Controlling Behaviors & Isolation: The abuser controls his spouse by opening her mail, monitoring her telephone calls, screening who she can see and speak to, and even following her to work. The abused spouse is made to feel isolated and alone. Many immigrant spouses have few family members or friends in the United States and she may feel quite dependent on her spouse. When the abusive spouse disregards the immigrant spouse and isolates her at the same time that person may be left with literally no one to turn to for social contact or support.

2. Coercion & Manipulation Behaviors: Coercion and manipulation refers to the abusive spouse’s ability to direct the abused spouse in a way that is unwanted and unhealthy for her. Coercion and manipulation is often subtle and nuanced directing the abused spouse to behave in ways that are unwanted, but without choice based on the abusing spouse’s manipulative behaviors. The behaviors that the abused spouse undertakes may be unusual for her character and may serve to question her sense of internal cohesion.

3. Threats of Deportation: Immigrant spouses often have little knowledge about immigration law and may be threatened with deportation by the abusive spouse. The irony is that the abusive spouse may be committing criminal behavior, yet the abused spouse remains fearful of deportation or being detained indefinitely by the immigration authorities. Such threats may continue until the abused spouse seeks legal counsel and discovers that she has legal remedies. Such threats also prevent the abused spouse from notifying the police because she believes that doing so will either jeopardize her immigration case or cause her to be detained or deported. The abusive spouse may also threaten to or actually destroy documentation belonging to the abused spouse, including her passport, social security card, driver’s license, or birth certificate. Moreover, the abusive spouse may destroy documentation sent by the immigration authorities for completion of the greencard process. Finally, the abusive spouse may refuse to accompany the abused spouse when called for a marriage interview thereby sabotaging the abused spouse’s chance for lawful permanent residency status.

Verbal Abuse

Verbal abuse is defined as any negative or derogatory words directed at the abused spouse, including disguised jokes, blocking and diverting, accusing and blaming, judging and criticizing, trivializing, undermining, threatening, name calling, and using demeaning terms, such as “fat,” “ugly,” “stupid immigrant,” “you are worthless,” or using disgusting expletives or profanities, such as “*****,” “cow,” “****ing idiot,” and other horrible verbal abuses, especially when done with yelling in a threatening tone.

The verbal abuse causes the abused spouse to feel badly about herself and she questions her sense of self-worth and may even begin to believe the verbal abuse if she internalizes it sufficiently and it becomes part of her identity. The most traumatic kinds of verbal abuse tend to occur in public when the abused spouse is demeaned in front of other people, particularly friends or family members, as it tends to do the most damage to the individual’s self-esteem. Finally, direct and indirect verbal threats made towards the abused spouse’s friends or family members should also be documented.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse includes any unwanted sexual touching. Sexual abuse may include unwanted vaginal, anal, or oral penetration with a body part or foreign object, or forcing the abused spouse to either perform or undergo ***********, fellatio, or analingus. Tissue damage, bleeding, and STD’s should be asked about. The abused spouse may not consider certain behaviors abusive and she may state that she felt obliged to engage in such sexual activity as her duty. Nonetheless, the standard is unwanted and documenting such behaviors will give a more complete account of the abused spouse’s experiences.

One should inquire if the client’s spouse has betrayed his marital vows though infidelity with other women, as this can reveal a host of risky and dangerous abusive behaviors. When this occurs, the abused spouse may also feel a horrible sense of betrayal of her trust. The withholding of sex should also be documented.

It should also be noted that in many cases the abused spouse may indeed enjoy sexual interaction with her husband, however the sexual interaction may still be abusive if in one or more instances it is rejected by the abused spouse. For this reason, the evaluator should also consider sexual denigration in a more general way.

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse includes the withholding or misuse of personal or joint funds, including financial transactions. For example, while either spouse may withdraw unlimited funds from a joint bank account, the abusive spouse has done so to ensure that the abused spouse is without financial resources and therefore helpless and dependent. Financial abuse makes the abused spouse physically reliant on the abuser for food, shelter, and all other basic necessities, such as transportation money to travel to and from work.

The abuser may demonstrate irresponsible financial spending habits, he may be in debt, he may have little ability to adequately attend to his own financial needs, and this may cause significant financial problems for the abused spouse. In many of these cases, the abuser is also unable to financially support himself and at best maintains part-time work.

Abused spouses have also noted that their abusers extort monetary support stating that if the money is not provided the abuser threatens to notify immigration authorities to have the spouse detained or even deported. While this threat is rarely carried out the threat can be extremely frightening and filled with terrible uncertainty for the undocumented spouse.

Instrumental Abuse

Instrumental abuse includes all other concrete abuses that are not easily categorized above. It may be helpful after assessing the above abuses to ask the abused spouse if there are any other behaviors done by their spouse that was hurtful, harmful, frightening, anxiety-provoking, or abusive or unwanted in any way.

Child Abuse

The abusive spouse may try to hurt his wife by cutting off her contact with her child or filing a complaint of abuse or neglect. This may in turn cause the abused spouse to either have less contact with her child, or restricted or supervised visits. The abusive spouse may also lie to the child about the other parent and cause the child to be confused or frightened. This, of course, is child abuse and in some cases the child may need to be included in the evaluation or require mental health intervention.

All of this raises the question as to whether the child of the abused spouse should be interviewed. This is usually determined by the evaluator and spouse together, along with major considerations, including the child's age, what he did or did not experience, his level of understanding and judgment, and the degree to which the child may be traumatized by even discussing these issues.

PROFILE OF THE ABUSER

Introduction

The traditional method of documenting a case of spousal abuse is to outline the various abuses that the client has suffered alone. However, the adjudicator will gain equally important insight from understanding the mental health issues concerning the abusive spouse. It is often the case that the abuser has several of the problems listed below and sorting through the abuser’s behaviors helps to clarify for the reader the extent of the abuser’s psychopathology.

Antisocial Personality Disorder

Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by a pervasive pattern of disregard for the well-being of others. The abuser may fail to follow the laws or norms of society, act in a deceitful way (such as promiscuity), act with reckless behavior, disregard the safety of others, display general irresponsible or even child-like behaviors, a parasitic life-style, and show a lack of remorse or false remorse. False remorse is often seen where the abuser acts in a seemingly contrite manner, begs for forgiveness, and may even instill a sense of guilt in the abused spouse for rejecting the abuser, though all of this is disingenuous. The abused spouse then empathizes with the abuser’s emotions and may act in a caring way toward her abuser permitting him to be a full part of her life. Finally, the abuser may also show glibness about the harm he causes and act with superficial charm or even charisma.

Paranoid Personality Disorder

Paranoid Personality Disorder is characterized by a pervasive pattern of distrust and suspiciousness, such that the person believes that other people’s motives are malevolent. The abuser may repeatedly accuse the spouse of infidelity, exploitation, or deceit in financial or other matters. The abuser’s energy and thoughts are consumed with paranoid ideation and is reluctant to confide in others, reads hidden meanings into even benign remarks, bears grudges, and reacts with rage at perceived attacks on his person.

Female Abusers

This evaluator has noted various differences in the abuse committed by males and the abuse committed by female spouses. While female abusers may well exhibit many of the characteristics noted in the above paragraph, it is also quite common for them to present with characteristics of Borderline Personality Disorder. These individuals often display pronounced erratic moods, intense periods of anger, unstable and impulsive behaviors, threats of suicide and/or self-harm, a dark sense of internal emptiness, transient psychoses often marked by deep paranoia and mistrust of others, and profound fears of abandonment by those close to her. As such, the abusive spouse often projects her own fears of anxiety and abandonment onto the abused spouse and at one moment the abused spouse may be idealized and at the next he may find himself demonized.

Drug Abuse

The abuser may have a substance abuse problem or addiction to illicit and / or licit substances, including alcohol and cigarettes. (Cigarettes may be the most serious as it causes terrible odors and even respiratory distress for the spouse). Some abusers only abuse their spouses when they are intoxicated and may recall little if any of their behaviors. When the abuser acts remorseful following an abusive incident the sentiment can be quite genuine because the absence of memories of the abuse due to intoxicating effects of drugs makes the incident foreign and unreal to the abuser.

It is also important to document if the abuser shows signs of intoxication such as, dizziness, nystagmus, lack of coordination, slurred speech, unsteady gait, lethargy, depressed reflexes, psychomotor retardation, tremors, muscle weakness, blurred vision, diplopia, stupor or coma, or euphoria and / or withdrawal signs, such as sweating, high pulse rate, insomnia, nausea, transient psychosis, psychomotor agitation, anxiety, or even seizures. The abuser may not use substances in the home or even in the presence of the abused spouse, however symptoms of use may be apparent. Possession, buying, and selling of substances should be noted as well.

Impulse Control

Impulse control issues include, gambling, stealing, and other behaviors that are done without clear forethought and in a reckless manner. Impulse control problems reflect the abuser’s lack of short-term and long-term planning and are informative about the environment in which the abused spouse exists.

Mood Disorders

The abusive spouse may be genuinely depressed, or even suicidal, and in moments of despair can become violent. However, the more common mood disorder issues in cases of domestic violence concerns chronic irritability, anger, rage, euphoria, and psychomotor agitation. Unstable moods that suggest Bipolar Disorders should also be considered.

Culturally Appropriate Abuse

The abused spouse may have been abused either in her country of origin, the United States, or both. The abuse need not occur exclusively in the United States for the abused spouse to petition as a battered woman. In many parts of the world certain abuse is not only culturally acceptable, but legally permissible or even mandated by law. The cultural context of the abuse may further support the immigrant spouse’s case, as she may fear returning to a society where such behavior is normative and where there are no safety nets, such as women’s shelters or orders of protection from the courts.

ABUSED SPOUSE’S MENTAL HEALTH

Introduction

The abused spouse may suffer from a variety of mental health issues. However, if the abuse occurred many years earlier it is quite possible that many of the symptoms or mental health problems have become less intense or have abated altogether. For this reason, a mental status examination is not sufficient and a full psychiatric history should be elicited from the client.

Mental Health Care

The abused spouse may find mental health assistance in many ways. Mental health clinics with full resources are among the best places to make a referral ostensibly because they tend to be holistic offering both psychiatric and psychotherapeutic care, along with social service support and referrals in the immediate community if necessary. Support and self-help groups can be wonderful for some people, and for others it may simply reinforce a sense of helplessness. Other clients may most benefit from the support of friends and family, and yet others may find that simply leaving well enough alone is the best avenue.

Spiritual counseling can be quite helpful and many clergymen are now instructed by clinical experts during their religious studies, such they are de facto therapists. However, this evaluator has come across many cases where the abusive spouse agrees to counseling with a clergyman and the clergyman asserts that the sanctity of the marriage should remain a top priority, such that the abused spouse is instructed to somehow adjust to her situation. This is obviously unhelpful and often dangerous, and should be considered in the course of the evaluation.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder DSM V

Criterion A: stressor

The person was exposed to: death, threatened death, actual or threaten serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence, as follows: (1 required)

(1) Direct exposure.

(2) Witnessing, in person.

(3) Indirectly, by learning that a close relative or close friend was exposed to trauma. If the event involved actual or threatened death, it must have been violent or accidental.

(4) Repeated or extreme indirect exposure to aversive details of the events, usually in the course of professional duties.

Criterion B: intrusion symptoms

The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced in the following way(s): (1 required)

(1) Recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive memories.

(2) Traumatic nightmares.

(3) Dissociative reactions (e.g., flashbacks) which may occur on a continuum from brief episodes to complete loss of consciousness.

(4) Intense or prolonged distress after exposure to traumatic reminders.

(5) Marked physiologic reactivity after exposure to trauma-related stimuli.

Criterion C: avoidance

Persistent effortful avoidance of distressing trauma- related stimuli after the event: (1 required)

(1) Trauma-related thoughts or feelings.

(2) Trauma-related external reminders (e.g., people, places, conversations, activities, objects, or situations).

Criterion D: negative alterations in cognitions and mood

Negative alterations in cognitions and mood that began or worsened after the traumatic event: (2 required)

(1) Inability to recall key features of the traumatic event (usually dissociative amnesia; not due to head injury, alcohol, or drugs).

(2) Persistent (and often distorted) negative beliefs and expectations about oneself or the world.

(3) Persistent distorted blame of self or others for causing the traumatic event or for the resulting consequences.

(4) Persistent negative trauma-related emotions (e.g., fear, horror, anger, guilt or shame).

(5) Markedly diminished interest in (pre-traumatic) significant activities.

(6) Feeling alienated from others (e.g., detachment or estrangement).

(7) Constricted affect: persistent inability to experience positive emotions.

Criterion E: alterations in arousal and reactivity

Trauma-related alterations in arousal and reactivity that began or worsened after the traumatic event: (2 required)

(1) Irritable or aggressive behavior.

(2) Self-destructive or reckless behavior.

(3) Hypervigilance.

(4) Exaggerated startle response.

(5) Problems in concentration.

(6) Sleep disturbance.

Source: American Psychiatric Association. (2013) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Major Depressive Disorder

Major Depressive Disorder is characterized by:

(1) depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report (e.g., feels sad or empty) or observation made by others (e.g., appears tearful).
(2) markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day (as indicated by either subjective account or observation made by others)
(3) significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
(4) Insomnia or Hypersomnia nearly every day
(5) psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day
(6) fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
(7) feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt (which may be delusional) nearly every day (not merely self-reproach or guilt about being sick)
(8) diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day (either by subjective account or as observed by others)
(9) recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide

Suicidality

Suicidality may be either active or passive. Active suicidality occurs when the person has a plan to end her own life, such as by the ingestion of medications. Active suicidality is usually characterized by deep psychological pain or despair and a hopeless belief that nothing in the person’s life can improve in any meaningful way. Passive suicidality concerns thoughts of death or dying and many include the person stating that they wonder what it would be like never having to wake up so that their pain would vanish. Passive suicidality is usually more ideational, while active suicidality is often accompanied by a thought out plan that may or may not be realistic or even coherent.

Anxiety / Somatic Issues

Anxiety includes general nervousness, aches and pains, general or even vague somatic complaints, feelings of restlessness, psychomotor agitation, poor concentration, irritability, and sleep disturbance. Anxiety may also lead the person to harbor obsessional thoughts or compulsive behaviors. Somatic issues may also reflect key anxiety phenomenon.

Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are discreet periods of intense, acute anxiety often with feelings of terror precipitated by either frightening thoughts or contextual issues and which are characterized by heart palpitations, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, chest pain, “stomach” pains, dizziness, feelings of unreality, and fear of loss of control or death. Moreover, when the individual fears experiencing embarrassment in public or anxiety in anticipation of entering public spaces then agoraphobia is also present.

Learned Helplessness

The victim may experience learned helplessness from a lack of control that prevents her from seeking assistance. Because the victim is made to feel worthless and unloved yet remains helpless and trapped in a dangerous environment, she may paradoxically minimize the harm she has suffered or doubt her own point of view. Still, the abused spouse will likely internalize various negative feelings that result from the abuse. Victims of abuse often feel shame, humiliation, or self-blame for ever having become intimately involved with a violent person.

The victim may not experience any meaningful pattern of abuse and the abuser may have no need or intention to persecute the individual in any meaningful way, such that patterns may not exist. For this reason, it is also not uncommon for the abused spouse to claim uneven patterns of harm without apparent rhyme or reason.

It is also important to note that the individual will suffer greater psychological harm where no discernible pattern of abuse exists. This is because when abuse occurs in a set pattern it paradoxically provides the victim comfort (and perhaps even a benign sense of control) due to her ability to predict when the next episode of abuse will occur. In contrast, persons who suffer harm without any degree of predictability must contend with terrible uncertainty without any knowledge (or even understanding) of when (or why) the next episode of harm will occur. [1]

Pre-Existing Mental Health Issues

The abused spouse may have a pre-existing mental health issue. This does not negate the abuse that the victim suffers or excuse the abuser’s behavior. However, the abuser’s physical, emotional, financial, sexual, and other abuses may in fact exacerbate pre-existing mental health problems that the abused spouse endures. The civil law eggshell rule—the defendant takes his plaintiff as he finds him—applies here inasmuch the abused spouse’s pre-existing mental health issues do not mitigate the abuser’s behaviors for the purposes of the evaluation.

U Visa Considerations

The abused spouse and / or partner who is petitioning for a U Visa may well need to assist the District Attorney’s office and / or police on one or more occasions in the prosecutorial process. For some clients this may be quite empowering and even curative, yet for many other victims it forces her to recount to different individuals the horror that she suffered in the course of the relationship. Some U Visa petitioners have stated that they feel they must relive the abuse months or even years afterwards and others simply prefer to minimize their assistance to the District Attorney's Office or police because they feel emotionally overwhelmed having to relive the memories. On the positive side, I have seen many cases where the District Attorney's Office refers the victim to a counseling clinic, and these professionals are often quite helpful in both a concrete and therapeutic way in the healing process.

Conclusion

This paper outlined the issues the forensic evaluator must consider when performing an evaluation with an abused spouse.


[1] See Martin Seligman’s seminal research and writing in this area that produced a more nuanced theory of learned helplessness, including, Helplessness: On Depression, Development, and Death. (1975).


About The Author

Dr. Mark S. Silver is a New York Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has a combined Specialist Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Political Science from the University of Toronto and a Master of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Western Ontario. He also has completedd a Master of Social Work at the University of Toronto, a post-graduate Certificate Program in Family Therapy at Smith College and a Doctor of Psychology at the Southern California University for Professional Studies. In addition, he holds a Juris Doctor fromt he City University of New York, Queens College and is admitted to practice law in New York. For the past decade, Mark has worked as a consultant for law firms throughout the United States, conducting psychosocial evaluations and writing formal reports in forensic and mitigation immigration and criminal cases.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.