Imagine there’s a woman who receives an award from an organization that provides services for victims of domestic violence and abuse. The woman came to the center with her tale of domestic violence, survived and thrived, and moved on to help others in a situation similar to the one she said she once suffered through. The organization shares her award on its social media page, issues a press release and includes her story in their newsletter.
The woman writes her story under maiden name and never mentions her ex-husband by name.
And he sues her, claiming defamation.
It happens. This is a true story, and the woman was sued. Florida law allows filing for defamation is a variety of instances.
Here’s what the woman wrote:
“I was asked to write a short article celebrating the fact of not just surviving domestic violence but thriving through recovery.”
“Getting out of an unhealthy, threatening and dangerous relationship is hard. It is scary.”
“Just because you have left, or the divorce is final, . . . doesn’t mean the slate is wiped clean and you can just start a new life.”
“I don’t know if there will ever be a time when I can be certain I am no longer being stalked and watched.”
“I didn’t want to live in a constant state of fear.”
“I didn’t want daily conflict and fighting.”
The center never investigated her claims. Come to find out, there’s no mention of domestic violence in her divorce document. That’s not to say it didn’t happen, but a court ruled the man could sue for defamation.
In this case, he said, even though he wasn’t mentioned, enough people in their town would recognize both parties and assume his ex-wife had been a victim of domestic violence.
Allegations of domestic violence come at a cost, especially if they are false. Such allegations can cause the accused to be fired from a job, suffer financial damages or see their reputation shattered.
If you have been accused of domestic violence and are innocent, you need to fight to protect your good name. A lawyer who works with domestic violence cases should be the first place you turn for guidance.