Domestic Violence: The Definition And Potential Consequences

October was domestic violence awareness month. With that in mind, it is important to understand what domestic violence actually represents, along with some ways a victim of such actions can seek help. Domestic violence, most often perpetrated by a spouse or domestic partner, can have several definitions—one does not have to be physically assaulted for the abuse to be considered domestic violence. An abusive relationship can take several forms. There are many signs that a particular relationship may be abusive, some of which may include (but are not limited to):

  • When a partner embarrasses the other with constant put-downs, either in public or private;
  • When a partner controls where the other can go or who he or she can see;
  • When one partner refuses to let the other make any of the joint decisions;
  • When one partner tells the other that he or she is a bad parent;
  • When one partner denies the other access to or time with the children;
  • When one partner controls all the financial decisions and money in the relationship; or
  • When one partner destroys the other’s property.

Domestic violence is surprisingly common—an average of 24 people every minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner. This results in more than 12 million Americans being victims of domestic violence annually. These numbers represent nearly 30 percent of all American women and 10 percent of all American men. The numbers of severe physical violence are even more shocking: Roughly 25 percent of all women aged 18 and older have been the victim of such violence in their lifetimes, along with roughly 14 percent of all men.

Punishment for domestic violence in California is regulated by the California Family Code. A perpetrator is defined as anyone with whom the victim has an “affinity,” (related by marriage); with whom the victim lives (or has formerly lived with); or someone the victim is dating. If a person feels that he or she is being abused, he or she can then file for a protective order. If the situation is immediately dangerous, he or she may choose to instead file for an emergency protective order.

If you or someone you know has been accused of domestic violence, the most important step is to seek legal counsel. Do not go through it alone. Contact an experienced Santa Clara County criminal defense attorney today.


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