I'm sure I'm in good company when I say that I no longer know what to expect in the morning's news. These days--with all the strange events that befall our nation--the Most Powerful Man In The Free World has been targeted by escalating and scandalous allegations of business, political, and personal impropriety. I can't help but reflect upon Trump's clear history of poor choices, and I wonder: Can some of his lessons apply ordinary folks--those in the non-Presidential world? After a lifetime of defending people accused of crimes in Williamson and Travis counties--and all across Central Texas--I believe they can. To this very day, I'm sorry to say that I frequently deal with interpersonal situations similar to those facing the President.
If the POTUS can be derailed by allegations from a person of questionable character, how can normal people protect themselves? In life, as in sexual relations of the type alleged against Mr. Trump, a little self-reflection, self-protection and forethought is essential.
Trump-Daniels: A Cautionary Tale
When Donald Trump embarked on his historical first Presidential run, his political advisers had a lot of cleaning up to do. Distasteful as it is, such measures are neither new or surprising; history is replete with stories of the many powerful and confident leaders who had to pressure-wash evidence of past extra-marital activities. Still, as thorough as Trump's hombres tried to be in the lead-up to his election, a few noisy problems still persist. No doubt the squeakiest of wheels is porn star Stormy Daniels, a.k.a. Stephanie Clifford.
Clifford has attested to rolling in the good times with The Donald, and she has passed a polygraph test and revealed photos and text messages that appear to document her time with Trump. This feisty, outspoken, and determined character is the wild storm that seems to have drawn the then-future President in. Mr. Trump consistently denies her allegations. Today, she's a tsunami headed straight for the White House, where she is determined to wreck shop.
There are many lessons in the Clifford-Trump tale that can benefit more than cheating spouses, and that apply to our choices of romantic partners in general. What kind of person holds on to bountiful evidence of a relationship long since expired? The kind who will get you into trouble. When you see trouble coming, you should start gathering evidence yourself. While “The Stormy Show” provides a cautionary tale for wandering spouses, there's a bigger lesson for those among us white-knuckling a roller-coaster romance: Proceed carefully--and always use protection.
What kind of person holds on to bountiful evidence of a relationship long since expired? The kind who will get you into trouble.
Whether Stormy is telling the truth or not, there is no doubt that she carries her own personal baggage as a result of her choice of profession. I dare to say that most people would not find a porn star to be the most reliable witness in the world, although the allure of the outspoken seductress has drawn the attention of the media and large swaths of the public.
Folks have many reasons for entering and staying in troublesome relationships.
It is certainly true that some folks seek out partners who are “just a touch unpredictable”. Others just don't know what they're getting into, like my former clients who only were only able to see the writing on the wall after it too late to do anything about it. Still others continually stumble into connections a little too strange and surprising--again, and again, and again. Mostly what I see in relationships that have turned bad and resulted in criminal charges being filed is one partner or the other that is holding on too long to the idea of their relationship when the actual relationship has run it's course. Whether that is because they want to "save" their partner, or feel that the other "owes" them something, or even believe that somehow the paramour "belongs" to them, the result is the same--to some extent they are being punished for their misplaced and misguided loyalty.
While I hope this never happens to you, forearmed is forewarned. There are many potential romantic partners out there who will say and do crazy things to haunt you after you've moved on. By way of legal practice, I can sadly confirm that false accusations DO happen to good people—and it's usually by way of emotionally unstable partners. In the end, whether you're just dating around or in darker waters of love, a few strategies are your best protection against a punishingly bad romance. Here are some characteristics you may spot in emotionally problematic partners, and ways to protect yourself if the relationship with one goes south.
Troubling Signs In A Romantic Partner
Every romantic interest you'll encounter will have a few flaws, but social scientists say that the “troubling kind” tends to show a pattern of the behaviors below:
- Extremes of emotion—they're either over-the-top happy, or extremely sad or angry,
- A tendency toward impulsivity,
- Blaming others for their own problems,
- Attempts to control you or others,
- Obsessing about perceived wrongs done to them by others,
- Compulsive shopping or gambling,
- Self-harm activities (cutting, burning) or threats of suicide,
- Verbal abuse directed at you or others around them,
- More violent actions, like hitting, screaming, or throwing things,
- Drug and/or alcohol abuse.
As you learn about a new romantic partner, their history may also reveal signals of future problems. Again, no human is perfect and people are capable of change, recovery and redemption; but you should proceed carefully if your partner reveals one or more of the following:
- Troubled work history/repeated firings,
- Bankruptcies, evictions, or other escalated debt issues,
- Accusations or charges of child/elderly abuse or domestic violence against your partner,
- Accusations or charges of child/elderly abuse or domestic violence by your partner against another person,
- Any history of stalking or harassing former partners or co-workers,
- Any history of filing restraining orders,
- Loss of child custody or termination of parental rights,
- Multiple divorces or brief marriages,
- Suicide attempts,
- A history of treatment and relapse for alcohol or drug problems,
- Incarceration for a violent criminal offense.
Protect Yourself If You Anticipate Trouble
Some relationships just aren't meant to be. That said, there's no such thing as a clean break from an unstable partner; your past may indeed come back to haunt you. Stormy Daniels is an example of a person who has been able to gather and produce independent evidence to bolster her side of the story despite her own questionable past. Use her experience to help protect yourself from a relationship that is going bad.
If see signs that an unstable partner aims to sabotage you, it's time to make a proactive move through one or more of the following measures:
- Save copies of every text message and email between you and your partner, or you and your partner's friends and family. In the end, all communication others claim came from you can be altered to portray you in an unflattering light.
- In situations where an argument escalates, NEVER interrupt your partner's 911 emergency call. Doing so pins you with a criminal charge, regardless of the nature of the argument or fight. It also makes you look controlling and like you have something to hide.
- Tell family and friends about a partner's erratic and troublesome behaviors and your concerns of what might happen.
- Protect your electronic devices (computers, tablets, and cellphones) by changing passwords. Disturbed partners can send fake text messages and emails from your devices to support false claims of child sexual assault, domestic violence, or cheating
- Protect your online accounts (email, social media, shopping sites, and credit card/bank) by changing passwords or adding two-step authentication.
- Protect your valuables, as well as your driver's license, birth certificate, car titles, and money.
- Document where you can.
- Keep a private journal that includes dates and times of incidents—especially arguments and escalations. I call these "CYA" journals, and there is no question that you will remember more details near the time of the incident than you will hours, days or weeks later.
- In some cases, those accused of physical and emotional abuse have even been victims at the hand of an unstable partner.
- Gather as much evidence as you can without putting yourself in danger. If you feel that you are in any danger or are a victim of abuse now, contact your local abuse services to get immediate help. Both men and women can be the victims of controlling or abusive partners, and an abusive or controlling spouse who tells their story to the police first can sometimes convince them that the other partner is the abuser.
- Save communications; record them if necessary. This applies to phone conversations and on-site conversations as well as text messages and emails. Texas law allows for recording of conversations when only one party is aware that the tape is rolling. In this case, that would be you.
- Suggest couples' counseling. If that fails, get support for yourself. Sometimes family or finances prevent you from ending a relationship with a disturbed partner. Even if your partner refuses joint help through a professional, you're better prepared with support by your side.
If necessary, talk to police or an attorney.
When you fear for your safety or the safety of your children, it's time to pull out the big guns of protection afforded by the law. Texas statutes don't just address legal marriage; they also cover all manner of domestic partnerships--especially when kids are involved. If you are the victim, male or female, and you talk to the police first, the police are more likely to believe you than the abuser.
If the police are called to your home following a domestic incident, be aware of the officers' motivations. First, they want to de-escalate the situation by separating the participants. Second, they want to determine if the law has been broken. Third, if they decide a person has broken the law, they will take that person to jail. Notice that nowhere in this list of priorities is "marriage counseling" or "mediating a domestic dispute." Police officers are trained first and foremost to evaluate and eliminate physical threats, and to gather evidence to make criminal charges stick. This means in a domestic situation where there are allegations of physical violence they are almost always taking someone to jail.
How to protect yourself if the police are called and you are accused?
- Know that your every move is being recorded. All police officers wear body-microphones that transmit audio back to their patrol cars. Many officers also wear body cameras that record audio and video of their encounters with witnesses and suspects.
- Remember that you are being accused of violence.
- Don't react aggressively or violently toward the police.
- Be calm, respectful and polite to officers.
- If you are innocent of violence, you can simply say that you didn't engage in any violent acts.
- Beyond that, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT. USE IT!
If you have been unfortunate enough to find yourself accused of a domestic crime, do not waste time.
Get the representation that you need from experienced and reputable,
Board Certified Georgetown, Tx Criminal Defense Attorney Russ Hunt Jr
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