Domestic Violence: Time to Get Help

By February 13, 2018Family Law

Years ago, there was a pervasive belief that domestic violence only occurred in poor and disadvantaged households. Research has shown that this type of criminal behavior directed toward a family member affects young and old victims, wealthy and poor households, the famous and the unknown. Same sex couples are no more immune from this abuse that opposite sex couples. While there is supporting evidence and research that men have been physically abused by their female partner, the research and data demonstrates overwhelming that men are primarily the perpetrators of domestic violence.

Types of Domestic Violence

The following are common types of abuse and examples of abusive behaviors. This list is not exhaustive.

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Verbal abuse
  • Psychological abuse
  • Stalking
  • Economic abuse
  • Legal abuse
  • Spiritual abuse

Abuse may occur frequently or infrequently, but in most cases it tends to escalate over time. Without intervention, domestic violence generally increases and can lead to serious injuries and death.

California statistics collected from 2015 to 2017:

Domestic violence is loosely defined as a “spectrum”, and often a “pattern of behaviors” that include physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse, and/or economic control, as used by a person against current or former intimate partners in an attempt to exercise power and authority, or to inflict punishment and/or Injury.

  • Yearly, over 100,000 arrests are made for domestic violence charges in California. Countless other cases go unreported.
  • Around 150,000 victims contact domestic violence hotlines funded by the State of California each year.
  • Domestic violence programs in California answer over 900 crisis calls daily, or 38 calls an hour.
  • This same report revealed that California domestic violence programs served 3,674 people in just one day—a 17% increase over the recent three-year average.
  • Even though 5,700 victims are served by local DV programs daily in California, over 1,200 more requests go unmet due to lack of resources.
  • 65% of the victims using State-funded domestic violence services report having weapons used against them.
  • Approximately 40% of females in California have experienced domestic violence at some point in their life.

Victims have many things in common. Many victims try to normalize and navigate through the cycle of abuse. Victims may blame themselves for the situation that they find themselves in and feel they are responsible for the abuser’s behavior towards them. All victims reach a point where they are emotionally exhausted, feel powerless and ashamed about their situation. The cycle of abuse can go on indefinitely until and unless it is broken by some intervention (police, counseling, protective orders).

Domesticviolence.org describes The Cycle of Abuse like this:

  1. An initial abusive incident occurs (can be sexual, physical, or emotional)
  2. Tension builds, with the abuser trying to quell their violent tendency and the abused individual trying to “keep the peace” until, finally, another incident happens
  3. Make-up: the abuser apologizes, often promising never to do it again or, conversely, trying to shed blame by saying that the victim “asked for it” or is “making a big deal out of nothing”
  4. Calm: both parties act as if nothing is wrong, and do their best to ignore the mounting problem

This cycle can repeat itself endlessly, with the victim playing a prescribed role that is just as predictable as the perpetrator’s. Eventually, the “Make-up” and “Calm” stages get shorter and the abusive stages often get longer. After a period of time, it’s not uncommon for victims of domestic violence (like victims of all types of abuse and trauma) to develop the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). And because studies have proven that those who suffer from PTSD can be inclined toward violence, the cycle of abuse repeats itself through generations and is hard to break. Victims for whom domestic violence leads to PTSD struggle with a long-term psychological disorder that can be challenging to diagnose and conquer.

If you are in an abusive relationship, consider these protective measures:

  • Think of a safe place to go when the abuse begins – avoid rooms without exits (bathrooms), or rooms with weapons (kitchens).
  • Make a list of safe people to contact and keep this list safe in several places.
  • Make copies of important papers and documents you might need to take with you which would enable you to apply for benefits or take legal action such as:
    • Social security cards and birth certificates for you and your children
    • Passport or other visa documentation
    • Your marriage license
    • Leases or deeds in your name or both your and your partner’s names
    • Your checkbook, credit cards, bank statements and charge account statements
    • Insurance policies
    • Proof of income for you and your spouse, pay stubs or W-2’s
    • Any documentation of past incidents of abuse such as photos, police reports, medical records, etc.

These are beginning steps and measures to become self actualized and in control of your personal safety. Seeking the assistance of an experienced family law attorney in securing personal protective orders should always be considered. These court orders are known as domestic violence restraining orders.

A domestic violence restraining order is a court order that helps protect people from abuse or threats of abuse from someone they have a close relationship with. You can ask for a domestic violence restraining order if: 1. A person has abused (or threatened to abuse) you, AND 2. You have a close relationship with that person. You are: married or registered domestic partners, divorced or separated, dating or used to date, living together or used to live together (more than roommates), parents together of a child, OR closely related (parent, child, brother, sister, grandmother, grandfather, in-law).

What a restraining order will do:

A domestic violence restraining order will require the restrained person:

  • Not to have any contact with you or any other person who is listed in the restraining order. The California Judicial Council offers Free and Low Cost Legal Help to help you find people and information that can help you with your case. Information can also be found in Libraries, in Self-Help Legal Books, and Legal Help Questions and Answers websites. The resources listed below may help you find the best direction to consider in your situation.. Specific advice about your case will require the assistance of an experienced family law attorney.
  • Not to own any guns.
  • To only see your children under the custody rules set by the court.
  • To pay child support.
  • To pay spousal support.
  • To not interfere with property that you own jointly or individually.

If the restrained person violates the court order, he or she will have committed a crime and can serve time in jail as well as pay fines.

Resources for victims of domestic violence

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship and needs help, or would like to speak with someone about services and options, free and confidential help is available 24 hours per day.

National Domestic Violence Hotline

California Courts Self-Help Center

California Department of Public Health

California Partnership to End Domestic Violence

Go to the www.1800VICTIMS.org homepage to find resources in your county including Victim Assistance Centers and local law enforcement agencies.

Arlene D. Kock

Author Arlene D. Kock

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