A Reminder to Check My Privilege

TW: domestic violence (DV)

Earlier in September, I created a survey to gather opinions about if and why a person should be required to give their spouse notice before they’re able to create a cleave in their community property estate.  In California, all that’s necessary is: Spouse 1 (spouse that intends to separate) must (1) PERCEIVE a breakdown in the marriage, (2) INTEND to not resume or repair the marriage, and (3) ACT CONSISTENTLY with the idea that there’s been a complete and total breakdown of the marriage.  Upon establishing the 3 elements, Spouse 1’s earnings become separate property, while Spouse 2’s earnings remain community property.  In theory, the 3 elements could be established without a word to Spouse 2. 

Initially, I took great offense – while I am open to various permutations of intimacy and know that human relationships don’t lend themselves to bright-line tests, I do think that some form of notice should be required to terminate a marriage.  I’m entitled to a 3-day notice from my landlord if she wants to kick me to the curb and I have never left a job without proving a 2-week notice.  I would hope that my future spouse would give me a heads up before altering our legal relationship.

Then the results came in.  The survey got approximately 140 responses.  I was surprised by how many people responded, but I was more surprised by my own failure to anticipate the extent to which DV would find its way into survey responses.  

My single mother was a domestic violence survivor (until her death in 1999) and I am a vocal critic of intimate partner violence.  You’d think that I don’t need to be reminded that DV is a thing.  While I have experienced emotional manipulation, I have never feared physical abuse at the hands of a lover and it is hard for me to imagine (this is not to say that men do not fall victim to DV).  This is my apology for failing to check my own privilege: I am sorry.  I wholeheartedly support a person’s ability to leave a partner without saying a word.

Please see below for snippets from the survey responses, or click through for the full results.

Of the 23% of the respondents that selected “Other,” 63% mentioned that (fear of) violence would be a legitimate reason to leave without informing an intimate partner.  It is possible that listing “Violence” as an option would have increased the number of people that would have selected it.

Of the 42% of respondents that selected “Other,” 32% mentioned that violence or abuse would be a definite deal breaker.  It is possible that listing “Violence or Abuse” as an option would have increased the number of people that would have selected it.

-MC Tran, Articles Editor Volume 26