Aug 22

Abuse FAQ — Domestic violence

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  • What kind of behavior can be called “domestic violence?”
  • Don’t husbands have the legal right to discipline their family members?
  • I think I am in an abusive relationship. What should I do?
  • I’ve been abused. What can I do?
  • How can I get my spouse, who has exhibited violence, removed from the home?
  • What is a Protective Order?

1. What kind of behavior can be called “domestic violence”?

“Domestic violence” is often defined as any extreme encounter within a home which results in sexual assault, bodily damage or fear of bodily harm.

Domestic violence can occur between spouses or ex-spouses, people who were once romantically involved but no longer, or people related by blood or adoption. It encompasses abuse between domestic partners (past or present), spousal abuse, sibling conflict, child abuse and children’s abuse of parents.

The law may also consider the following behaviors a form of domestic violence: verbal abuse, intimidation, cutting off a person from family and friends, sexual abuse, and manipulation through threats or financial deprivation.

Domestic violence destroys the home. No one deserves to be abused. The responsibility for the violence belongs to the abuser. It is not the victim’s fault!

2. Don’t husbands have the legal right to keep their wives and kids “in line”?

No! No man owns his wife or his children, nor does he have the right to harm them physically. Domestic violence is a crime in every state in the country and anyone violating the law is liable to prosecution.

3. I think I am in an abusive relationship. What should I do?

  • Accept the fact that you are abused.
  • Plan an emergency escape.
  • Collect your important documents: children’s birth certificates, your social security number, health records etc.
  • Try to put aside some cash for an emergency.

4. I’ve been abused. What can I do?

First, get proper medical attention. Then, you have some choices. You can:

  • Stay at home and seek support and advice from your local Mental Health Center or shelter program.
  • Leave home – if you have a supportive relative or friend who will keep your whereabouts confidential, consider staying with that person temporarily.
  • Go to an emergency shelter program – if you have minor children you can take them with you.
  • Call the police if you or your children are in danger. The police may be able to make an arrest without a warrant when the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that abuse has taken place and danger of further abuse exists.
  • Seek legal assistance.
  • Call the police. Charges may be filed if the abuser’s acts constitute a crime. You may also apply for a Protective Order. You may seek counseling. You can leave the home. The proper course of action depends upon the nature and extent of the abuse. Do not ignore the abuse.

5. How can I get my spouse, who has exhibited violence, removed from the home?

Certain things are necessary for this type of restraining order.

A violent spouse may be removed from the home, without notice and with the help of police, if you can comply with all of the following requirements:

  • You can give the court specific reasons that show why you are afraid of your spouse.
  • You can show that there have been threats or other reason to believe you are currently in danger of emotional or physical abuse.
  • You are available to speak to the court, unless there is some unusual reason you cannot be.

6. What is a protective order?

A protective order is a civil order that can be obtained if a judge finds probable cause to believe that certain events have happened. One of these conditions needs to have occurred:

  • A person or member of the household has suffered physical injury.
  • A person or member of the household has been threatened with physical injury.
  • There has been damage or threatened damage to your property.
  • Continued harassment.

Receiving a protective order means the abuser is ordered not to physically hurt you, damage your property, threaten to hurt you or your property, harass you, disturb your peace or cause anyone to do any of the above. A protective order cannot be issued between parties who have a divorce pending; a restraining order is issued instead.

Call the prosecutor’s office to find out where you can get a protective order in your county. You can find the number for your local County Prosecutor in the Government Section of the phonebook. Check under your county, then look for “Prosecuting Attorney.”