Leaving an unhappy–and perhaps unhealthy–marriage is a brave step to take. It can be challenging but also empowering to file for divorce.
However, it is important for individuals leaving an unhealthy and abusive relationship to be aware of the risks they could still face and know what they can do to protect themselves and handle these risks. One of the most common dangers involves a former spouse stalking an individual.
Stalking usually relates to domestic violence
It is common for abusers to stalk their spouse, whether physically or electronically. It allows an abuser to feel like they have an element of control over someone.
Unfortunately, stalking often persists even after an individual files for divorce. Individuals should take it as a warning sign if their ex-spouse continues to:
- Appear at social gatherings without invitation
- Come to the individual’s home often, again without invitation
- Call or text constantly, even after being told to stop
- Send gifts on holidays or birthdays
- File multiple petitions with the family court to see the individual
- Become angry if the individual begins a new relationship
Many people might write off this behavior because coping with a divorce can be difficult. However, it is critical that individuals do not ignore this behavior and understand their options to put a stop to it.
It is always possible to take action
When individuals avoid taking action against an ex-spouse who is stalking them, they put their own safety, as well as the safety of their family, at risk.
Here are a few ways that individuals can reduce that risk and protect themselves:
- Do not confront them: The ex-spouse is likely looking for attention—positive or negative. Individuals should not speak with their ex-spouse about this issue or try to understand why they continue to stalk them.
- Tell trusted people about it: Discussing the matter with friends, family members or even an experienced attorney can help individuals obtain a second opinion about the situation. It can also help increase their safety.
- Keep a record of activities: Documenting an ex-spouse’s behavior and stalking can be extremely helpful when individuals take legal action. Remember to record the dates and times these actions occurred.
- File a restraining order: Obtaining protective orders in Virginia can prevent any contact from an ex-spouse.
Individuals must protect their own safety and their family. The skilled and compassionate attorneys at Bowen Ten Long & Bal, PC, can help individuals get the protection they need at any point.