What Is Domestic Violence?
What Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic Violence is physical and/or mental abuse that can occur in any family, no matter what race, ethnic background or religion. It is violence that occurs among the young and the elderly. The abuser (batterer) seeks control over the victim(s). Violence can start by shouting and can lead to serious abusive behavior. Often the abuser apologizes, but then it happens again. By the most conservative estimate, each year 1 million women suffer nonfatal violence by an intimate. Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report: Violence Against Women: Estimates from the Redesigned Survey (NCJ-154348), August 1995. Domestic violence is statistically consistent across racial and ethnic boundaries. However, immigrant women may suffer higher rates of battering than U.S. citizens because they come from cultures which accept domestic violence; or because they have less access to legal and social services than U.S. citizens. In addition, immigrant batterers and victims may believe that the penalties and protections of the U.S. legal system do not apply to them. Orloff et al., With No Place to Turn: Improving Advocacy for Battered Immigrant Women, Family Law Quarterly, vol. 29, no. 2, 313 (Summer 1995).
Under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, abuse is defined as any of the following:
- Intentionally or recklessly causing or attempting to cause bodily injury.
- Sexual assault.
- Placing a person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to that person or to another.
- Engaging in any behavior that has been or could be enjoined such as molesting, attacking, striking, stalking, threatening, battering, harassing, telephoning, destroying personal property, contacting the other by mail or otherwise, disturbing the peace of the other party.
The action of the abuser or batterer must be recent, at least within thirty days, and the batterer must be a spouse, ex-spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, ex-boyfriend/ex-girlfriend, someone with whom the victim has or has had a dating relationship, an immediate family member (mother, father, siblings, adult children, in-laws), or a person with whom a party has a child/children together.
Victims of domestic violence can protect themselves from this type of abusive behavior by seeking the help of the authorities. If the victim is in immediate danger, they must call 911. Officers will arrive and issue the victim an Emergency Protective Order, also called an EPO, which will legally restrict the abuser from coming within a certain distance of the victim. Their must be an “immediate and present danger” of domestic violence in order to obtain an EPO. The EPO will be issued for the victim and any children involved in the relationship and will remain in effect for five (5) court days.
The EPO is an emergency restraining order, which is an order issued to prevent the recurrence of acts of abuse by a batterer. If a victim wants to obtain a longer-term restraining order they can apply for a Temporary Restraining Order, also known as a TRO from his or her local Superior Court. There is no filing fee to obtain a restraining order and most Courts have Domestic Violence Programs to assist victims in obtaining all the necessary forms and instructions without any cost.
The TRO will go into effect upon a Judge’s execution and must be served on the abuser by a local law enforcement agency or another adult not named in the order immediately. The restraining order can include the following: restraints on personal conduct by the abuser; orders for the abuser to stay-away from the victim’s home/work and/or children’s school; orders for the abuser to be removed from the residence; child custody and visitation and support orders and other miscellaneous orders.
After filing the TRO, the victim(s) must return to Court for a hearing on the date set by the Court, to obtain a permanent order to keep the abuser away from the victim. These hearing are usually scheduled within three weeks of the issuing of a TRO and are mandatory; otherwise the TRO will simply expire.
A victim must take steps to protect themselves from abusive mental and/or physical behavior to prevent such acts from escalating and affecting other loved ones. Friends and family must become aware of the signs of such behavior and educate victims to protect themselves by using the tools and mechanism provided by law enforcement and the Court System to protect their legal rights.
This column is produced by Mary Der-Parseghian, Esq. For questions or comments, please send your message to 4727 Wilshire blvd., Suite 301, Los Angeles, CA 90010; E-mail: Mary@MaryDLaw.com or call at 323-937-2727. For additional articles please visit our webpage at www.MaryDLaw.com.
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