After discussing the issue of legal abuse, I began to think about another specialized group of individuals who particularly fall victim to this kind of abuse--middle and upper middle class women. While I often see indigent and low income women in court receiving restraining orders and participating in a system geared towards addressing their issues, middle and upper class women often end up nowhere. Who are these women?
These are women who are in a marriage with an income of over $100,000 per year, 25% of whom live in upscale neighborhoods, who are most likely college educated and perceive themselves as being middle or upper class.
While it is in the best interests of the legal system to move lower income women through and out of the court, the opposite is true of middle and upper middle class women. Attorneys and Custody Evaluators and GALs substantially benefit financially when divorces like this end up in litigation for years. Therefore, women who are wealthy or married to wealthy men often remain in the twilight of a divorce that is litigated on an ongoing basis, sometimes for years and years, simply because their ex husbands have the money to keep the litigation going and thereby continue to abuse, harass, embarass, bully and financially deplete their ex wives for years to come.
When such women seek help from their attorneys, mental health professionals, or from the court system which is supposed to assist battered women, they are met with disbelief and with the assumption that the womens' accusations of abuse are simply an attempt to gain the upper hand in court or to extract revenge on their ex husbands. It is rare for these women to be believed. Often, if they are open about what has been going on, they will endure punishment from lawyers and mental health professionals who think the women are making it up for their own benefit.
There is also the assumption that abuse could not happen in wealthy families and there is a feeling that such women live with so much privilege they shouldn't seek to complain when they find themselves abused. Often terribly ashamed to be in the position they find themselves in, such women are also rarely treated with the sympathy, respect and validation that they deserve by legal and mental health professionals who see them as simply spoiled and privileged attention getters.
The men who abuse them usually have Narcissistic Personality Disorders and believe that they are entitled to special privileges such as the right to abuse their wives and children indiscriminantly. Worse, they simply believe that they are above the law, and, in reality, they often are, since judges regularly exempt them from the consequences of their behavior, even when they directly and flagrantly disobey Court orders.
The women, in these situations, who are often simply trying to protect themselves, should they mildly object to these circumstances, often find judges will punish them to the fullest extent possible, regardless of the consequences to the women and their children. As Dr. Suzanne Weitzman has stated, such women are a "uniquely marginalized population of domestic violence survivors." For more information, contact Dr. Suzanne Weitzman at: www.nottopeoplelikeus.com.
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