While the term “domestic violence” conjures images of battered women and abused children, the legal definition of domestic violence is not limited to this type of physical injury. The common definition does, perhaps, have validity; by far the most common type of domestic violence, physical violence affects approximately 40 percent of California women in their lifetime. Younger women are far more susceptible to this type of violence; roughly 11 percent of all California women ages 18–24 had been the victims of intimate partner violence in the past year. Women who had been pregnant in the past five years were more likely to be these victims, and three-quarters of all victims had children under the age of 18 living in the home at the time that the abuse occurred.
There are, however, four other main types of abuse that are categorized by law as domestic violence. Sexual abuse is one of these. While a couple may be married, it is against the law for either partner to force the other to have intimate relations—marriage does not legally preclude the right to refuse sexual advances. Sexual abuse is not limited to relations between the two married partners, either. It also includes the forcing of one partner to have relations with someone else, forced prostitution, and, commonly, forced sex after physical beating. Sexual abuse can also include some forms of emotional abuse, such as withholding sex and accusations of infidelity that are accompanied by threatening behavior.
Abuse and Evidentiary Challenges
Other types of domestic violence that are more difficult to prove—and, perhaps more importantly—to disprove, include psychological, emotional, and economic abuse. Psychological abuse is defined as behavior that is considered intimidation or meant to instill fear. It can also include the limitation of social contact with family or friends. Emotional abuse circumscribes any behavior meant to undermine a person’s sense of worth. Constant put-downs, manipulation, or attempting to destroy a person’s relationship with his or her children are all considered emotional abuse. Economic abuse is any situation in which a victim is completely denied the possibility of financial independence. It can also be a situation in which a person is consistently belittled for spending habits or denied any control over joint financial decisions and assets.
Maintaining your innocence after being charged with any type of domestic violence can be difficult—especially in a society in which the word of a victim in such a case carries significant weight. It is imperative if you are charged with such a crime to enlist the services of a qualified legal professional. Do not go through it alone. Contact an experienced San Jose criminal defense attorney today.