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Jolie-Pitt Abuse Accusations Highlight Domestic Violence Upswing

Domestic Violence

Actor Angelina Jolie’s new accusations of abuse by her ex-husband and fellow Hollywood star Brad Pitt have already caught the attention of Tinsel Town, a wide range of media outlets, and celebrity watchers around the globe. 

Jolie says that Pitt was physically abusive to her and the couple’s children, accusations that recently became public in one of several ongoing court battles between the former spouses across the country. The news follows a high-profile court battle between actors and former spouses Amber Heard and Johnny Depp over Heard’s claims of abuse by her ex-husband.

Here is what has been lost in much of the breathless coverage of both situations: domestic violence is a very real threat, whether you are a well-paid movie star or someone who lives his or her life far from the glitz and glamor of the big screen.

While the claims by Jolie and Heard have received plenty of attention, domestic abuse victims who are not public personalities often feel like they have no one to turn to. It is important to understand that there are steps that you can take to protect yourself and get out of an abusive relationship, even if you are married to or have kids with your abuser.

At Kraayeveld Law, our Michigan family law attorneys have decades of combined experience assisting our neighbors in a wide range of situations related to marriages and children. That includes helping domestic abuse victims take action to protect themselves and their families.

Plane Incident Detailed

Jolie made the accusations against Pitt, to whom she was married for some five years, in court filings for a legal fight over a French winery that the couple had owned together, the New York Times reports. Her lawyers told a court in Southern California that talks for Jolie to sell her share of the winery to Pitt broke down because he demanded that she sign a nondisclosure agreement as part of the deal.

The pact “would have contractually prohibited her from speaking outside of court about Pitt’s physical and emotional abuse of her and their children,” Jolie’s lawyers reportedly said.

They described a specific incident that allegedly took place on a private plane in September 2016 as the couple and their six children were flying from France to California.

“Pitt choked one of the children and struck another in the face” and “grabbed Jolie by the head and shook her,” Jolie’s lawyers said in the court filing. At one point “he poured beer on Jolie; at another, he poured beer and red wine on the children,” they said.

Federal law enforcement officers investigated the allegations and at one point found probable cause to believe the incident happened but ultimately decided against criminal charges, the Times reports.

A Pitt representative denied the accusations in an interview with ABC News.

The plane scene is similar to several described by Heard in a recent trial in Virginia stemming from her abuse claims against Depp. Heard’s claims also involved sexual abuse.

She graphically described an alleged incident in Australia in 2015–during filming for a “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie–in which Depp hit Heard in the face, shoved her to the ground, threw her into a pingpong table, and ripped off her nightgown, according to NBC News. Depp then sexually assaulted Heard, she reportedly alleged.

Depp recently won a more than $10 million defamation verdict against Heard over the claims. Heard plans to appeal the decision.

Domestic Violence Is Increasing

Meanwhile, domestic violence is on the rise far from Hollywood.

One in three women worldwide experiences physical violence by an intimate partner, according to data compiled by the United Nations. These incidents became more frequent during the Covid-19 pandemic, thanks to a number of factors like stay-at-home orders, emotional distress and a spike in substance abuse. In the U.S. alone, domestic violence incidents increased by more than 8% in the early days of the pandemic, a study by the Council on Criminal Justice found.

The problem is even more acute in Michigan, where domestic violence cases are increasing across the state. The number of people victimized by domestic violence surged by roughly 45 percent over the last two years, according to new data from the state police. 

What You Can Do to Stop Abuse

If you or a loved one has been victimized by physical or emotional domestic abuse in Michigan, here is what you need to know.

First: You are not alone. There are a number of ways that you can get help. That includes seeking the advice and counsel of an experienced family law attorney. A lawyer can help you explore a number of options for protecting yourself and your kids. 

For example, you have the right to seek a restraining order banning your abuser from coming near you, threatening you, or possessing a weapon. To get an order – also known as a “personal protective order” – you have to be able to show that there is probable cause to believe that your abuser is likely to commit certain abusive acts. A lawyer will gather the necessary evidence to make that case and present it to a court in a clear and convincing way.

Parents can also go to court to change child custody and visitation arrangements as a result of domestic violence. Domestic violence allegations are one of several factors that courts consider in setting custody and visitation orders. It is also something judges will look at if asked to revise a custody or visitation order.

How Our Grand Rapids Family Lawyers Can Help

At Kraayeveld Law, we have been helping domestic abuse victims and others across Grand Rapids for decades. Our lawyers are dedicated professionals who take the time to understand each client’s unique situation and work tirelessly to help them resolve a wide range of situations.

Call 616-285-0808 or contact us online to make an appointment to speak with a Grand Rapids divorce lawyer about your situation.