Domestic violence (DV) is more than just physical abuse. During the relationship, domestic violence can be physical abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, and financial abuse. When the relationship ends, the abuse does not stop, it just transitions to a new form of abuse referred to as post-separation abuse (Also see #narcissisticabuse).

Post-separation abuse continues to escalate and often, far surpasses the DV that victims are subjected to while under the same roof as their abuser. After the relationship ends, the perpetrator sets their sights on the child(ren) to exert control and, to terrorize the healthy parent. Every high-conflict custody battle has three basic narratives: the abuser’s need for control, the abuser’s need to “win” and, the abuser’s desire to hurt or punish the healthy parent.

While there are many resources available to victims of DV during the relationship, the only resource available to victims of post-separation abuse is the Family Court System itself (judges, mediators, minor’s counsel, custody evaluators, therapists, co-parenting counselors, parenting coordinators and attorneys). It is so important for those in the family court system to be educated on post-separation abuse and to recognize it in high-conflict divorces, custody battles and paternity cases.

Post-separation abuse does not just affect the victim, it has both immediate and long-lasting effects on children resulting in high adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). ACE’s, a term used to describe any traumatic event during childhood such as divorce, violence, emotional abuse, neglect, substance abuse or even an environment that undermines a child’s sense of bonding or stability. The ACE Study (The Center for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente) should be the courtroom bible for judges and other family court professionals who are tasked with the responsibility of acting in the best interest of children. Learn more at