Legal Domestic Abuse – What Is It and How to Protect Yourself

Dr. Jeanne King, PhD. 11/24/2023

Over the last two decades, people continue to ask me: “How do I inform the Court that my partner is engaging in legal domestic abuse?”

These people are eager to protect themselves and their children as they recognize they are swimming in a sea of law-fare. They see the injustice done to themselves and to their children, and they feel helpless in changing the course of their circumstances in family court.

I feel immensely for these people and at the same time I’m keenly aware that they are asking the wrong question. Let me explain…

What is Legal Domestic Abuse?

The question is not: How do I show the Court. You see the Court already knows that you are experiencing legal domestic abuse. The Judge and the attorneys are clearly aware of the dynamic in play.

Here’s why… Let’s break down the words in the term “legal domestic abuse” and it will be apparent to you, as well.

Legal refers to affairs within the scope of the judicial system. If you are in court, you are participating in a legal matter—even if the process appears unlawful and unethical.

Domestic is a term that refers to home and family. It’s the interaction between people who live together or share bloodlines and or family ties.

Abuse is essentially all about control. It’s when one party imposes their will upon another with no regard for the other’s preferences and or experience. Generally, it involves a violation of one person toward another because it wholeheartedly steps on the rights of another against their knowledge and or consent.

What the Court Already Knows

Certainly, the Court knows your proceedings are about “legal” matters and the proceedings are between two or more parties that share a “domestic” relationship.

And most importantly, and maybe surprisingly to you, is the fact that the Court even realizes that “abuse” is underway. You see, litigation is by nature two parties seeking control. Lawsuits are all about control and the Court knows that.

The Court is already mindful that what is before them is “legal domestic abuse.” To them, it is not an evil thing; rather it is expected when two parties in domestic relations court are fighting over parental and property rights.

The Court knows each party is imposing their will upon the other, and one party is typically more aggressive and intrusive in their efforts.

Generally, these cases are carried out by domestic abuse families. The court arena is merely another platform to play out the exact same dynamics that occurred in the home. I’m assuming you know that domestic abuse, AKA as initiate partner violence, is all about control.

In most cases the court arena affords an exaggeration of these dynamics because the divorce attorneys are incentivized to incite further combat as this naturally enables billings. This is an industry. It’s a business. As much as you may want to believe it is about seeking nice-nice for you and your children, you must be mindful of this larger context.

What Is a Litigant to Do

So if the Court already knows you are dealing with “legal domestic abuse” and the attorneys may be feeding the continuation of the combat, what then are you to do?

Stop trying to convince them that you are a victim of legal domestic abuse and put all of your energy in strategizing how to overcome the many ploys divorce attorneys employ to jockey for custody.

Learn to recognize these ploys, first and foremost. Understand how these ploys are designed to disadvantage you and your rights in your divorce and custody battle. Develop your own strategies to offset these ploys to prevail in family court. At the end of the day, know you are fully responsible for your safety and your wellbeing.

For more information on legal domestic abuse, visit

If you want personal help in dealing with legal domestic abuse, reach out to me through our contact page on

© Dr Jeanne King — Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention

2 responses to “Legal Domestic Abuse – What Is It and How to Protect Yourself”

  1. Danile Irene (Smith) Vann says:

    My Son was a victim of Domestic Violence ,there are no services availiable to men WHY?

  2. Thank you so much!

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