On average, about 20 people become victims of physical violence every minute. Moreover, according to Violence Policy Center, about three women are murdered every day in the U.S. by their current or former romantic partners.
Domestic violence has become more prevalent across the U.S. than one can imagine. Not only women, but men also become victims of domestic violence.
However, you need not allow yourself to be victimized by your partner or a family member. By reporting domestic violence, you can punish the wrongdoer and live safely. If you have become a victim of domestic violence, get in touch with a lawyer and file a case without delay.
What Constitutes Domestic Violence?
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), “Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another.”
In extreme cases, domestic violence can claim the victim’s life. Take the example of Karen Smith, who was fatally shot by her husband (who she had left and was considering divorcing). Advocates are of the opinion that abusive partners often turn deadly when a victim tries to leave them. Therefore, it is important for people to identify domestic violence and take necessary steps to avoid extreme consequences.
Domestic violence can take many forms and some of the most common types of domestic violence include:
- Physical Abuse: The most common type of abuse, physical abuse involves the use of physical force to cause harm to or injure a person.
- Emotional Abuse: This type of abuse harms a person’s self-worth. Emotional abuse involves persistent insult, humiliation, or criticism. It can be either verbal or non-verbal.
- Financial Abuse: Although not very prevalent, this type of abuse involves restricting a partner from earning, stealing from the victim, using victim’s name to incur debt, etc. Financial abuse can take several forms.
- Sexual Abuse: This is a type of physical abuse, where the victim is forced to establish physical intimacy. Sexual abuse can also involve unwelcome touching and other demeaning behaviors.
- Psychological Abuse: This type of abuse involves persistent intimidating, threatening, or fear-causing behavior that causes trauma to the victim.
Any kind of persistent abusive behavior must be reported immediately. You must at least discuss your situation with an attorney so that you can determine whether or not you are a victim of domestic violence. Many cases of domestic violence go unreported because the victims fail to understand that they are victimized by their partners or family members.
Domestic Violence Laws
Victims of domestic violence are protected by a number of state and federal laws. However, not many people know about these laws and continue to be victimized. The domestic violence law defines the criminal rules for punishing those who cause physical or emotional harm to others with whom they share a close relationship.
Some of the most major domestic violence laws include:
- Violence Against Women Act (VAWA): Passed by the Congress in 1994 and supplemented in 1996, this Act established a national domestic violence hotline, which has been provided for maintaining the confidentiality of victims of domestic abuse, and changed immigration laws to permit battered spouses to apply for permanent residency independent of their abusive spouses, according to FindLaw.
- State Domestic Violence Laws: Domestic violence laws differ significantly with every state. The definition of domestic violence and the arrest policies may differ greatly too. For instance, under the Rhode Island Domestic Violence Prevention Act, domestic violence is a crime committed by one family or household member against another.
The definition may be different for other states. So, by appointing a domestic violence attorney, you can get further information about the domestic violence laws in your state and determine the legal steps you can take. However, most states have adopted the “preferred arrest policies” where the police are required to arrest one or both parties or write a report which states why the arrest was not made.
- The “Domestic Violence Green Card”: Under this law, a foreign national is eligible to apply for permanent residency in the U.S. if he/she was abused by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
Do You Need a Lawyer to File a Domestic Violence Case?
While it is not mandatory for victims to hire a domestic violence attorney, it is always best to work with an experienced one. While laws are in place to provide protection to the victims, things can become complicated if children are involved or issues with immigration arise. Moreover, the abuser will try to come out clean, so the chances that the abuser will hire a reputed attorney who can defend him/her are high.
A reputable and experienced attorney will help you collect the required evidence and decide who should testify on your behalf. The attorney will also help you understand the state and federal laws and prepare you for the hearing. However, make sure you provide the attorney with all the information. Even though domestic violence is a criminal offense, you need to prove fault and this can be best done with help of an attorney.
Even if you can’t afford an attorney, consider discussing your case with one since the first consultation is offered for free. By discussing your case, you will know how to file the case and proceed further to ensure success.
Domestic violence can be traumatizing. Therefore, victims must act quickly and get the abusers punished. However, domestic violence laws differ from state to state. Getting help from an attorney is recommended. An attorney will help you understand the process and also educate you about the laws and helplines made available by the government. If you are not able to afford an attorney, get in touch with a domestic violence or sexual assault organization and check out whether they are able to refer you to an attorney who can help you for free.
Do not let yourself suffer. Act quickly and save yourself.