Domestic Violence

Violence and Abuse between Spouses and Family Members

Though each state may have its own specific definition of domestic violence under criminal law, this may be described as any form of physical, emotional or sexual abuse between spouses, ex-spouses, family members, people who live together or people who are or were in a romantic relationship. It may take on many forms, including child abuse, spousal abuse, spousal rape, emotional abuse, child neglect and abandonment, child endangerment, psychological abuse and physical abuse. Some examples of acts that may be considered domestic violence may include:

  • Threats of physical harm;
  • Actual physical harm (hitting, striking, kicking, strangling, pushing, etc.);
  • Verbal assault or abuse (name-calling, putdowns, etc.);
  • Sexual assault;
  • Rape;
  • Molestation;
  • Withholding money;
  • Prohibiting a partner from getting a job;
  • Prohibiting contact with family members, friends or others;
  • Stalking;
  • Harassment; and
  • Refusing food, water, clothing or other necessities.

It is estimated that 85-95% of all domestic violence victims are women, and over 500,000 women are stalked by their partners each year. Currently, domestic violence is a leading cause of injury for women in the United States. Domestic violence, however, can also include men or children as the victims. It may occur in same-sex or opposite-sex couples.

Stopping Domestic Violence

In cases of domestic violence, the abusive spouse may also try to control the marital property and income. Victims of domestic abuse may fear losing their children, losing their home, and may be too embarrassed or afraid to admit abuse to their families. People experiencing domestic violence are encouraged to speak with law authorities and seek counsel from an attorney to protect their individual rights and take legal action. Law enforcement may be able to provide much-needed aid, and a court-ordered restraining order or protective order may prohibit the abuser from contacting or coming within a certain distance of the victim.

Click here to find a family lawyer who can offer support and guidance in the face of domestic abuse.