Domestic violence has been a problem in societies the world over.
It entails the actions committed by a household member against another, such as spousal abuse or child abuse. Domestic violence has been known to take many different forms. It can refer to behavior that is too controlling, threatening, physical harm or coercive.
Since domestic violence can occur in any relationship, whether married or unmarried, it is essential to be aware of the actions that relate to domestic violence. To help you better grasp the context of domestic violence, here is a definition of the terms in criminal defense that pertain to domestic violence:
- Domestic abuse
- IPV (intimate partner violence) victims
- Abusive partners
- Abusive parents
- Serial abusers
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Violence in families
- Unhealthy and destructive habits
- Volatile relationships
- Violent relationships
- Substance abuse
- Risky sexual behavior
- Risk of physical injury
- Domestic partner relationships
- Domestic relations
- Civic and community organizations
- Family laws
- Family law jurisdiction
Domestic abuse refers to the action, attempted action, or threatened act of violence against a person with whom the offender is or was in an intimate relationship with or lives in the same household or who has in the past been a member of their household. It also refers to crimes such as stalking, coercion or harassment of an individual in the same household or with whom the perpetrator has had an intimate relationship. Any municipal ordinance violation against an individual or their property, including animals, whether as a mode of coercion, punishment, intimidation, revenge, or control, is also considered domestic abuse. Domestic abuse may also include violence against:
- Minor children belonging to either of the partners
- Animals owned, leased, held, or kept by either party or by children belonging to either party, whose attempted act, threat or action is intended to control, coerce, punish, exact revenge, or intimidate on either party or their minor children.
IPV (intimate partner violence) victims
Victims of intimate partner violence are those found to have been threatened by or subject to criminal offenses by a person:
- To whom the victim has been or is still married to
- With whom the victim was dating, or in a romantic or sexual relationship
- With whom the victim is or was in a domestic partnership
Intimate partners are people that have been involved in a dating relationship, people who reside together, or persons that have resided together in the past. Any violence from one partner to the other is referred to as intimate partner violence. Intimate partner violence can be in form of physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, or economic abuse. Economic abuse is when one partner makes or attempts to make the other financially reliant on them by taking away or sabotaging their way of income.
Abusive partners are those that, unfortunately, have adopted a systematic pattern of abusive behaviors against their romantic partners to non-consensually control their thoughts, actions, beliefs, spirit and their body. Abusive partners may present characteristics such as:
- Subtle controlling behavior: Victims may feel wary of their partners and tend to do the things that will not get them in trouble.
- Explosive incidents: At this point, many victims will live in fear of being hurt or stay in fear of the partner’s reaction for the action. The abusive partner employs tactics of abuse to get more control over his/her partner.
- Hypocritical behavior: The abusive partner may offer flowers or gifts after acts of violence to try and convince their partner that they are sorry or are still the same person they fell in love with.
Intimate partner violence, commonly referred to as dating abuse occurs in every community. While women are the most common victims of this form of domestic violence, there are also cases of men being victims of abusive partners. The gender, size, strength, political affiliation, personality, or age do not determine whether a person is the abuser or the victim.
Parents, according to criminal defense, are the people who are the legal parents and are responsible for the upbringing of one or more children. Adult household members that formerly or presently live together and are the natural parents of the same child should provide essential needs such as food, shelter and education to the child. This is also true for stepparents as well as adoptive parents that live with the child.
Child abuse is particularly sensitive in the law. That’s because the legal system operates under the assumption that the child or children have not reached the mental capacity that allows them to take care of themselves. While the law allows parents to discipline their children through confinement, spanking, or restriction to some privileges, some acts against children are considered criminal. If the guardian, parent, or child care giver commits any acts of violence or sexual abuse, it is punishable in a court of law.
The courts consider the reasonableness of a disciplinary action to be based on factors such as the severity of the actions, the age of the child, and the extent of harm or any potential harm that the child suffered. They also consider the socio-cultural history of the family.
Serial abusers are the type of abusers that go from one victim to the other. A serial abuser can be a pedophile (childhood sex abuser), a serial rapist, a workplace sexual harassment, or a sex trafficker. The motivation behind the abuse mostly stems from sex and power, and the offender often has a pattern of victims that they entrap with focus and premeditation.
Serial abusers often develop a double life, making sure that their public life remains exemplary while they cultivate techniques to abuse their next victim in their private life. They are inclined and motivated to act normally and often hold status in their communities. This makes their victims timid of their reaction if they reported the case and whether their community would believe them.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental condition triggered by a terrifying event in a person’s life. The person may have witnessed or experienced the terrifying event. Most cases of PTSD are caused by incidents of domestic violence. Symptoms of this mental health condition include nightmares, flashbacks, uncontrollable thoughts related to the event, as well as severe anxiety.
Most victims of severe trauma have temporary difficulties coping with day-to-day activities. However, with good care, they almost always get better. However, if the symptoms persist for months or years, the patient might be suffering from PTSD. It is essential to get effective PTSD treatment to reduce the symptoms and improve the quality of life. Symptoms of PTSD may include:
- Recurrent, unwanted memories of a traumatic event
- Avoiding people, places, activities or talks related to the traumatic event
- Negative changes in mood and thoughts
- Changes in emotional as well as physical reactions (easily startled or frightened)
- Having frightening nightmares about the traumatic event
Violence in families
Violence among family members can be caused by a wide range of factors. It includes intimate partner abuse, child abuse, and elder abuse. Family violence is estimated to affect approximately 10 million people every year in the US alone. Factors that cause violence in families are mostly economic and psychological. Family violence can range from stalking to psychological aggression and physical violence by a member of the household against a victim of the same household.
It is often very difficult to identify family violence as it mostly goes unreported to legal authorities or health professionals. Family and domestic violence includes:
- ntimate partner violence
- hild abuse
- lder abuse: Caregivers are restricted against acting in ways that intentionally lead to harm of an elder.
Family violence occurs in all ages, sexes, and races. It is not ;limited by geographic, education, religious, socioeconomic or cultural boundaries. It is often triggered by:
- Anger management issues
- Low self-esteem
- Cultural beliefs that one partner has the right to control their partner
- Psychological or personality disorder
- Abuse of alcohol and other drugs may cause impairment and violent impulses
- Family background (learned behavior)
Unhealthy and destructive habits
Domestic violence often begins subtly, where the offender randomly becomes violent over events frustrating them. However, others seek to gain a position of control and power over their intimate partner or family. Abuse can be emotional, physical, sexual, psychological, or economic actions or threats that are meant to intimidate, hurt, or control another person.
Unhealthy behavioral patterns should be keenly observed to avoid instances of serious physical or emotional injury. Behaviors that intimidate, terrorize, frighten, manipulate, hurt, injure, blame, or wound someone should call for immediate action. Some of the unhealthy and destructive habits you should watch out for include:
- Partner embarrasses you in front of your family or friends
- Partner tears down your accomplishments
- Partner abuses drugs or takes excessive alcohol and says hurtful words or physically assaults you
- Partner excessively punishes the children for simple errors
- Treats you roughly, pushes, pinches, shoves, or hits you
- Intimidates you into complying with his belief or religion
- Constantly blames you for the situation they are in
- Forcefully prevents you from pursuing your dreams
- Prevents you from leaving even after hitting you
- Makes you feel little and incapable of making decisions
Most people do not think they are in a volatile relationship until violence sets on and it is too late to get help. Most of the time, even in volatile relationships, couples enjoy a good time. But a small fraction of the time, they get into arguments and even fights. However, the consistency and extent of violence should be big signs of a volatile relationship.
Signs of a volatile relationship include bitter arguments for even the slightest mistakes by either partners, or insensitivity to the partners’ emotions. You may experience weeks of minimal communication or even silence. You may avoid each other and fail to find a way to reconnect with each other.
Most people in volatile relationships have found themselves feeling distant and unfamiliar to their partner. Fortunately, 90% of these relationships can be fixed. If both partners are willing to look into the triggers of their discontentment with each other and practice a positive strategy when dealing with each other, the relationship can only get better.
Unlike volatile relationships, which are characterized by disconnection, violent relationships are characterized by bitter arguments and fights. Violent relationships often start out as volatile relationships that go unsolved for years. Unfortunately, by the time relationships get violent, most victims are intimidated of reporting the cases to authorities and health facilities or even leaving.
Most of the time, violence in a relationship is not obvious. Abuse is not always limited to physical violence. Some forms of violence, such as emotional violence, are very hard to identify. However, there are some key signs of an abusive relationship. They include:
- Jealousy: Constant accusation of flirting or being unfaithful
- Possessiveness: Always checking where you are, what you are doing, and who you are with.
- Threats: They may break items that you value, yell at you, or threaten to use violence if you defy their behavior
- Physical and sexual violence: They may push, shove or hit you or force you into having sex with them. They may also harm your children, pets or friends.
Drug and substance abuse is closely linked to domestic violence and often occurs concurrently. One is often a sign of the other, and in most instances, one causes the other. While they are related, there is none that always precedes the other. Drug abuse does not always lead to physical or emotional violence, and domestic violence is not always the cause of overindulgence in alcohol or drug use.
However, when drug and substance abuse happen concurrently with domestic violence, it could lead to devastating results on all individuals involved. While most people believe that substance abusers are primarily the aggressors, excessive alcohol and drug abuse increases the risk of the user being a victim of domestic violence. Drug abuse often makes people irritable and offensive leading to confrontations with family members and violence.
On the other hand, most victims of domestic violence get depressed and turn to alcohol and substance abuse, making them even more vulnerable to their aggressors. According to research, young adults who have experienced physical dating abuse are likely to present substance abuse and mental health disorders within six months of the traumatic event.
Risky sexual behavior
Any activity likely to increase the probability of a person engaging in sexual activity with another individual that is infected with a sexually transmitted infection is considered risky sexual behavior. For a while now, risk sexual behavior such as having sex with no condom often lead to or are caused by domestic violence.
Some victims of domestic violence easily go into sex trafficking because they lose their self-esteem and feel disvalued. Likewise, engaging in risky behavior could get the partner infected with STDs and cause domestic violence and disconnection between intimate partners.
Risky sexual behavior also leads to unplanned pregnancies among financially unstable families, increasing strain on financial resources and creating tension between family members. Partners should engage in responsible sexual behavior to keep each other safe from HIV and other STDs and unplanned pregnancies.
Risk of physical injury
If you have been a victim of domestic abuse, you need to assess the risks to you and your family members. You do not want to live under the same roof with someone or people that get violent and hurt you or your loved ones. Physical injury is often considered the biggest risk to the victims of domestic violence.
Victims that live with violent people that abuse alcohol and other substances face the highest risk of physical injury. That’s because of the fact that under the influence of alcohol, the aggressor may use weapons or strength that they wouldn’t use if they were in their right mind.
It is wise to report cases of physical violence to authorities as it can easily be proven in court. If, however, you feel intimidated, you and your loved ones should leave the aggressor until they are completely reformed. Women face the biggest risk of injury during domestic violence instances, as they are often weaker than the aggressors. It is also mostly because they are often intimidated by their violent partners.
Domestic partner relationships
Domestic partnerships are very similar to marriage, but apply to unmarried partners who share a common household and are in an intimate relationship. The relation is, unlike marriage, not legally identified as a marriage by the state in which the individuals reside.
A domestic partnership consists of two people of different or the same sex. There are state laws that use the phrase “Spousal equivalent” to refer to a relationship in which the partners provide similar physical, financial and emotional commitment to that of a legally sanctioned marriage.
Domestic relations is a field of family law that regulates relations within a household or family. These relations were in the recent past limited to issues between parents, spouses, wards, legal guardians and children. Issues within this purview are resolved only in domestic courts also known as family courts.
Statutory definitions further instruct the ability of a family court to hear cases involving domestic relations. For instance, section 3105.011 of Ohio state laws was revised to constrain domestic relations cases to those that are included under section 2301.03, complaints for child support, actions transferred from the juvenile court, and the determination of the rights and responsibilities of parents.
Civic and community organizations
Domestic violence has been successfully eradicated in several communities around the globe due to civic and community action. Some communities view acts of violence against a partner or household member as an act of violence against the society as a whole. Moreover, community organizations fronting the rights of women across the globe have successfully changed national policies that have greatly reduced domestic violence.
There is an increasing awareness of domestic violence and child abuse in societies across the country. To save the victims of domestic violence that still endure physical, sexual, financial, or emotional torture, we should increase the capacity of the community to assist victimized individuals and families. Civic and community organizations should collaborate and participate in making leadership decisions that affect victims of domestic violence.
Family law entails matters pertaining to household, parental, and child laws. Some of the subjects that are most commonly classified under family law include:
- Marriages, domestic partnerships and civil unions
- Child custody, child support, and alimony awards
- Divorce, property settlements, alimony and annulment
- Child protective proceedings
- Surrogacy: Law of the process of giving birth as a surrogate mother
- Paternity: Laws establishing whether paternity should be established or not. It also defines the management of paternity testing
- Juvenile law: Legal matters pertaining minors
Family laws are very expansive, including matters such as juvenile adjudication, emancipation, and paternity testing. The list above is not exhaustive as it varies depending on your jurisdiction.
Family law jurisdiction
In special cases in family law, there is the question of the jurisdiction of some of the laws applying to marriage, custody or divorce. Most people wonder whether the laws of child custody or divorce in their state will be considered in a different jurisdiction.
For cases involving child custody, most nations across the globe have joined the Hague Convention in accepting the Civil aspects of International Child Abduction to grant recognition for other member states’ child custody laws and reduce the cases of parental kidnapping in their nations.
We understand that family relationships are complicated, and sometimes require outside help to resolve. The Castellanos Law Group is your advocate and is ready to help in a wide variety of domestic relation issues.
By combining knowledge of both sides of the criminal justice system, Castellanos Law Group provides clients with strong representation in even the most complex criminal defense matters.