Domestic violence is abusive behavior inflicted on one partner by the other in a relationship. Abuse can be in the physical form, verbal form, or both. It’s a play on power. Usually, the person initiating the abuse is looking for control. They want to ignite fear by using hurtful and harmful tactics to intimidate their partner.
Domestic violence is not gendered specific, race specific, or age specific. It doesn’t care if you’re heterosexual or homosexual. It doesn’t matter if you’re married, single, rich, or poor. Domestic violence can and does happen to anyone.
Laws Against Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a nationwide crime and punishable by law. There are two types of domestic violence charges – misdemeanor and felony. A misdemeanor charge is punishable to a year in jail and a fine. A felony offense is punishable up to four years of imprisonment and a heftier fine. The extent of the charge and fine are all dependent on the severity of the crime, the inflicted harm, the abuser’s criminal record, and the state in which the crime was committed.
There are three different types of courts that rule over domestic violence cases. There is a criminal court, civil court, and family court. The type of court depends on the alleged charges. Criminal court handles crimes that involve rape, assault, kidnapping, abuse, vandalism, stalking, etc. Civil court involves violation of protection order. And family court or divorce court is for cases where the divorce is a reaction to family violence.
Recognizing the abundance of domestic violence cases, in 1994, Congress passed a law called the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This is a federal law that expands on state and local laws against domestic violence. It enhances punishment on repeat offenders, sex offenders, and those that cross state lines to cause harm to a significant other.
When Does Domestic Violence Become a Federal Crime
It is a federal crime to cross state and Indian country lines in pursuit of causing bodily harm to an individual, to stalk an individual, to harass an individual, or to violate a protection order. All federal violations of domestic violence are classified and handled as felonies.
Many victims don’t always understand their rights. As a victim of domestic violence, you have the right to protect yourself. One way in which this can be done is by getting a Court Order of Protection. This order stops all contact from the abuser. If the abuser and the abused reside under the same roof, this order of protection will demand that the abuser move out immediately and can be tailored to meet specific needs.
Warning Signs of Domestic Violence
Most people don’t realize that they are in potentially dangerous relationships. Commonly, the abused tend to make excuses for their partner’s behavior. No one wants to admit to being verbally or physically abused; furthermore, too many are afraid to ask for help. But below are some warning signs that can help you identify when you’re in an unhealthy relationship.
An abusive partner is someone who:
- tries to break you down by telling you-you’re not good enough
- monopolizes all your time
- threatens you or your family members
- forces you to do things that you don’t want to do
- threatens you with violence or weapons
- harasses you
- physically causes you harm by hitting you
Domestic violence is never OK. The pivotal point is recognition. If you, or someone you know, is suffering from domestic violence, please contact the Spodek Law Group at 1-888-997-5177. We have been helping victims since 1976. At SLG, we treat you like family.