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Domestic Violence Law

It happens so that a relationship or marriage ends and one of the parties does not handle this situation in a mature, responsible, or lawful manner. Unstable behaviors, perceived or vocal physical threats, or a prior domestic violence history may cause one of the partners to fear for their safety.

Domestic violence is behavior used by one person in a relationship to hurt or dominate the other. Domestic violence applies to partners whether they are married or unmarried, living together or dating. The crimes committed in domestic violence include assault, battery, homicide, stalking, and rape. Domestic violence is sometimes defined as a pattern of intimidation that a present or former spouse, partner or family member uses to control another.

Domestic violence can take many forms:

  • Physical abuse can be hitting, slapping, punching, shoving, grabbing, pinching or biting. At worst, it can be assault or murder.
  • Sexual abuse occurs when one partner forces or attempts to force sexual contact or behavior without consent. It also includes marital rape.
  • Emotional abuse involves undermining an individual’s self-worth or self-esteem. It can include constant criticism and name-calling.
  • Economic abuse occurs when one partner makes or attempts to make the other partner financially dependent by total control over financial resources, withholding access to money.
  • Psychological abuse includes causing fear by intimidation; threatening physical harm to partner, children, or family; and forced isolation from family, friends, school or work.

Domestic violence charges are serious and usually prosecuted. They are separate from (but can be filed in addition to) assault and battery charges. Federal legislation has been enacted most notably the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Congress passed VAWA in 1994 and supplemented the bill in 1996 to create and fund programs to help protect victims of domestic violence. At the same time, the majority of domestic violence offenses are prosecuted under state law.

Basic elements necessary for a domestic violence include:

  1. Must be between family or household members.
  2. The Petitioner must have been the victim of domestic violence or is in fear of an imminent attack.
  3. The sworn petition must allege the existence of domestic violence with supporting facts.
  4. Jurisdiction is where the Petitioner currently resides.

The consequences of domestic violence can have a significant and lasting impact on the lives of everyone involved. If you have suffered or been accused of committing this type of harm, you need an experienced lawyer on your side. A qualified domestic violence lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court.

About the author

Thomas Elliott

Education: Brooklyn Law School, Brooklyn, New York. Pace University, White Plains, New York.
Professional Associations and Memberships: American Bar Association, New York State Bar, The Association of the Bar of the City of New York, Brooklyn Bar Association, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA).

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