Divorce and Domestic Violence: Is Domestic Violence Considered a Crime?

Many divorce attorneys and divorce lawyers are often confronted with this question because of the difficulties associated with domestic violence cases. Indeed domestic violence can take numerous shapes including actual physical abuse or threats of physical abuse, emotional abuse, threatening telephone calls, disturbances at person’s workplace and stalking. Domestic violence covers many forms of abuse such as physical or emotional dominance and control over a close related person, whether spouse/husband or any other relative.

Therefore, the question to of whether or not domestic violence is punishable under criminal law will often depend on the type of domestic violence and the specific circumstances in which the act or acts of domestic violence took place. However, repeated actual physical abuse is generally not punished the same way as disturbances.

Further, there are no common national laws regarding domestic violence matters in the United States. Each State has its own laws to handle domestic violence cases. Therefore the same domestic violence case may be judged differently from one state to another. However, most States tend to consider domestic violence both as a crime and a civil offense. Therefore, the domestic violence offender may be subject to both a criminal punishment such as a jail sentence and to a civil punishment such as money damages.

Many States also tend to consider domestic violence a crime against the community. As a consequence, a domestic violence case may be subject to prosecution by the city or district attorney even if charges have not been brought by the abused person and even without his/her assistance. Too often, and in most famous domestic violence cases, the abused person ran away from the family residence, contacted the police, pressed charges, and then tried to have the charges dropped because he/she managed to reconcile with the abuser. In order to prevent such patterns from being repeated, many local communities and states enforced a more severe legal system regarding domestic violence matters.

Whether it is the first complaint or not or charges were pressed or not, domestic violence cases can be brought to justice. Many local communities or states try to inform and warn that domestic violence will not be tolerated by local authorities. If you want to know more about your local legal system and what acts of domestic violence is considered a crime, you can get some useful information with your local bar association or by consulting an attorney in your jurisdiction.

© 2006 Child Custody Coach

Forms of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a serious crime committed throughout the United States in a wide range of homes and situations. However, many individuals do not realize that the scope of activities that can be considered intimate partner violence goes far beyond physical abuse in the home. Domestic violence is generally defined as any interaction in a partnership or relationship where one person uses either physical or emotional abuse to control the other person.

Across the united sates domestic abuse is considered an illegal act and is punishable by the law. But because there are many incidents that can be considered domestic abuse, many individuals can be involved in a domestic abuse situation without realizing a crime is being committed. By knowing what constitutes domestic violence it is possible to protect yourself, your freedom, and your best interests.

What Constitutes Domestic Violence?

While domestic violence is generally defined as any activity used to control a partner or family member, there are a number of common activities that can be specifically declared acts of intimate partner violence. These acts to not have to happen in the home to be considered forms of domestic abuse. They include:

· Emotional abuse, such as name calling.

· Emotional putdowns and insults meant to cause emotional harm.

· Stalking activities.

· Intimidation tactics and other forms of unwanted control.

· Sexual assault. This can be true for relatives, partners, married couples, and any other pair of individuals who live together or are emotionally tied.

· Sexual battery.

· Alienating a partner and controlling their actions in and outside of the home

· Controlling a partner’s ability to obtain or maintain employment or steady income

· Withholding money or controlling the use of other necessities

· Threatening physical harm or abuse

· Performing physical harm and abuse

· Controlling a partner’s interactions with family and friends, including how often they can contact or see them.

Any of these acts can be considered forms of domestic abuse and may be punishable by the law. Whether you have been the victim of domestic abuse or if you are being accused of intimate partner violence it is important you know what type of activities fall under the title.

For More Information

Important Information on Domestic Violence in the State of Georgia

It is an unfortunate truth, but something as commonplace and simple as an argument between two spouses can change a person’s life forever. It happens every day of the year: a man and his wife become embroiled in a shouting match. Tensions begin to rise, and as things escalate the male bumps into his wife. The female spouse calls the police, and a few minutes later there is a knock on the door that brings with it jail time and a hefty fine.

After things cool down, the female in this case admits to authorities that the police were not needed and no abuse took place, but the government continues to charge the male. What started as a shouting match between two adults turned into a domestic violence conviction that sticks on an individual’s record for the rest of their life.

What is included in the term domestic violence?

Under the law in Georgia, the following are examples of what domestic violence can include:

• Stalking
• Assault
• Simple Assault
• Battery
• Simple Battery
• Unlawful Restraint
• Criminal Damage to Property
• Any Felony

These crimes must take place between two spouses past or present, parents who have the same child, children and parents, stepchildren and stepparents, or foster children and foster parents.

The bottom line is this – If you push, slap or punch your spouse, your girlfriend or your boyfriend who lives with you, it is considered domestic violence. You will be charged even if there are no signs of physical harm such as a cut or a bruise. In addition, you will be charged if you act in a way that scares the individual living with you in your home, such as threatening that person with bodily injury.

Consequences of Being Charged with Domestic Violence

Initial incarceration – Those who are charged with domestic violence can expect to stay in jail for at least a full 24 hour period. No bail is allowed in these types of cases until you sit before the judge presiding over your case.

1st conviction – In most circumstances this charge will be a misdemeanor, but one that is aggravated in nature. As such, you could face 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

2nd and other subsequent convictions – Each time that you accrue a new charge for domestic violence it will be treated as a felony. The maximum jail sentence for this kind of felony is up to 5 years in jail.

Other Consequences of a Domestic Violence Charge

Gun Ownership – According to federal law, if you are convicted of a domestic violence charge you are not allowed to own or possess a firearm or ammunition for a firearm. The punishment for being caught with this kind of weapon will result in a long jail sentence, possibly up to 10 years.

Employment – Sometimes employers will not hire a prospective employee if they have any sort of charges on their permanent record. This is especially true in cases involving domestic violence or felonies. Your future job prospects may be much less lucrative as they once were.

Domestic Violence Against Women – A Nationwide Epidemic

Domestic violence is an epidemic in the United States. Domestic violence victims and domestic violence perpetrators can be anyone. In domestic violence not only does it involve two people it involves the entire family. The people involved can be of any gender. Unlike our stereotypes, domestic violence happens to the wealthy, educated, and even soccer moms. “Violence is inflicted primarily by men; most men have been socialized into masculine identities.” (Wood, 2009). “In the United States, every twelve to eight seconds a woman is beaten by a man; four women each day are reported beaten to death; and women are six hundred percent more likely to be brutalized by an intimate partner than are men.” (Wood, 2009). Statistically, domestic violence knows nothing about socioeconomic, educational, racial or religious boundaries. Domestic violence is learned and can be unlearned; it is important to identify the forms of abuse, why women stay, programs available and changes that can be made to lower rising statistics for our future generations, because contrary to child abuse and elderly abuse domestic violence is not mandated by law to report in Illinois.How is domestic violence learned? “Most domestic violence is caused by learning and reinforcement rather than by biology or genetics.” (Farmer, 2007).

The behavior is learned by observing others who have abused someone in their presence or they themselves have been abused. “Studies have found that nearly one half of abusive men grew up in homes where their father or step father was violent.” (Farmer, 2007). A boy can learn to be aggressive as a child. For instance, in competing in sports activities boys who play football play rough, endure physical pain and injuries and confront their opponents. (Woods, 2009). Also, showing emotion is frowned upon. This can be linked to violent behavior against women, children, animals, as they become more mature. According to Turning Point, Inc., “male violence against women in intimate relationships is a social problem condoned and supported by the customs and traditions of a particular society. Pornographic videos, magazines and websites are learning grounds which teach that women are unworthy of respect and valuable only as sex objects for men. Most videos and computer games have become an important training source for children and teens. Many of the sex-role messages present men as aggressive males and in control with the value of females restricted to their sexual allure. Boys often learn they are not responsible for their actions. Aggression in boys is increasingly being treated as a medical problem. Boys are being diagnosed and treated with medications instead of identifying that they have been possibly traumatized and exposed to violence and abuse at home.

Domestic violence is repeated because it works and because there are frequently no legal consequences. The fact that domestic violence is learned means that the perpetrators behavior can be changed. Most individuals can learn not to batter if there is sufficient motivation for changing that behavior.” (Farmer, 2007, page 2). In our society there are many forms of violent behavior which include “physical, verbal, emotional, sexual and visual brutality they are inflicted disproportionately or exclusively on members of one sex.” (Wood, 2009, page 285). The first form of abuse is physical. Men physically abuse woman by hitting, biting, stabling, pushing or sexual force. The female victim is viewed by society as the weaker and more deserving of being abused whereas the male perpetrators are considered to be strong, aggressive and controlling. The second form of abuse is verbal. This type of violation can be done by a man by intimidating his female partner. Verbally intimidating can include belittling, demeaning, ignoring, disrespecting, “being told what to do,” or by saying “you are fat, ugly, or stupid.” Or other words used can be “nobody will ever want you,” “and you will never amount to anything.”

The third form of abuse by men is emotional. This can include the male partner making poisonous remarks that leave the female feeling guilty, wounded or traumatized and very afraid to take any steps to get out of the situation. For example the use of tone of voice and body language to indicate the female is stupid, ignorant, incompetent or defective. One statement that is often used is “Just who do you think you are?” According to Julia T. Wood on page 289 of Gendered Lives, “at least twenty eight percent and possibly as many as fifty percent of women suffer intimate partner violence, which is physical, mental, emotional, verbal or economic power used by one partner against the other partner in a romantic relationship.” (Wood, 2009, page 289).

Why do women stay in any relationship when abuse is present? There are reasons so numerous as to why women choose to stay in their relationships while being abused. For instance, lack of income and education. The husbands have total control by not letting the spouse work or have money. Women will be isolated and have no outside relationships including family. The abusive spouse will call several times questioning where their spouse is at and to account for their whereabouts every moment of the day. Most women feel trapped into staying in the relationship feeling like there is no way out. Women stay because they are afraid of the repercussions and do not know where to go to feel safe. They feel like without a new identity they will be found. This is especially true when children are involved.

Women will feel guilty by taking away the child from the father. Finally, women will justify the abuse by saying, “I deserved it,” “if only I had not made him mad,” or “if only I did what he asked me to do,” I might not of been beaten. Many women also feel that it is their duty to stay because of their religion to “be submissive,” to their spouse. Some women are raised in the environment to be a people pleaser especially to their parents. They do not know any better than to marry and submit to their spouse. In Chapter twelve of Gendered Lives on page 284, “four million American women experience a serious assault by a partner during an average twelve month period, and at least three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every day.” (Woods, 2007, page 284). Western society recognizes domestic violence with having at least four stages of violence. In Gendered Lives by Julia T. Woods on page 293 it talks about the cycle of intimate partner violence and the four stages. They are identified as tension, explosion, remorse, and the honeymoon stages. The two stages that help victims stay is because of the remorse and honeymoon stage. In the remorse stage the abuser will say anything to keep the relationship such as “I am so sorry” and I promise never to “do it again,” or desperately say “I will get help,” and never follow through. In the honeymoon stage the abuser will feel guilty about their actions and usually buy the victim a gift to make up for their behavior.

The startling number of gendered violence is a nationwide epidemic that needs to be taken more seriously by society. Today, domestic violence against women is still on the rise along with the concern of women’s health issues. Thirty years ago battered women had no options such as a place to go or no places that would offer help and assistance. Today, there are more places to go such as shelters, churches and agencies to help victims of domestic violence. These shelters not only offer a place to stay but assistance with restraining orders, money, lawyers, and new lease on life. Society needs to address abuse by men, and help educate the public, especially the future generation in order to prevent more violent attacks. The solutions sound rather simple but we as a nation need to re-evaluate how we treat offenders in our society, and how we define it and prevent it.

We must learn how to be effective parents, spouses, and teachers without resorting to violent behavior in resolving disputes with our loved ones and those we are communicating with. In order to be able to reduce the statistics of gendered violence it is important to identify the stages, characteristics, and types of abuse. Only by voicing our opinions can we make a difference by either stopping the abusive person in the home or by reporting it or when someone you know is being abused. Each community can contribute by volunteering in their town or by raising awareness by speaking out against violence.

All women are subject to becoming a victim of domestic violence; unless society as a whole chooses to speak out. Can statistics be changed in today’s current rise against domestic violence? Yes, speaking out on the laws can help because if the laws and the punishment against the perpetrator become more strict it can prevent further domestic violence overall. In today’s culture domestic violence against women is not just subject to any economic class; it is up to each person and as a society to make changes that will make current statistics a lower number.

Works Cited

Farmer, J. (2007). McHenry County Turning Point, Inc. Retrieved May 29, 2008, from Causes of Domestic Violence.

Hertz, S. K. (2006, SEPT/OCT). Trapped. Retrieved May 15, 2008 From EBSCOhost (Academic Search Premier)

Christian Science Monitor. (1/31/2007, Vol. 99 Issue 45, p18-18, 2/5p). What we can do about domestic violence. Retrieved May 15, 2008 from EBSCOhost (Academic Search Premier)

Pioneer Development Resources, Inc. (1994-2008). Women’s Rural Advocacy Programs. Retrieved May 27, 2008

Wood, J.T. (2009, 2007). Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender, and Culture, Eighth Edition. North Carolina: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence – A Correlated Generalized Deviance

I believe it is safe to say that a majority of defendants charged in our courts with animal abuse have prior domestic violence convictions as well. It is because of the “generalized deviance” that domestic violence and animal abuse are correlated. Anti-social behavior of different levels can happen in one individual but how that individual came to exercise the deviance is more complicated as there are many pathways that lead to it. An example of one of these exercises is the individuals use of violence or other anti-social manipulations to “solve” problems which is called “modeling” and explains why violence is often intergenerational. Although animal abuse and domestic violence are correlated, it varies as to which occurs first.

But are there any numbers we can connect here; any studies conducted to make this deviance a little more tangible? A study done in New Jersey found that in 88% of households where children were physically abused, there were records of animal abuse as well. In Wisconsin, four out of five battered women cases revealed the partner had been violent toward pets. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence conducted a study of abuse victims after arriving at domestic violence shelters and found that 85.4% of women and 63.0% of children reported incidents of pet abuse. The Chicago Police Department’s Domestic Violence Program compiled a history of arrestees for animal fighting/animal abuse for the period of 2000-2001 and found that approximately 30% had a conviction of domestic violence on their record. Animal abuse is often associated with other serious crimes such as drug offenses, gangs, weapons violence, sexual assault, and domestic violence and the individuals committing these acts of violence against animals are viewed as a danger to the public and therefore, must be addressed. The whole premise of an animal abuser is to demonstrate power. The abuser will batter an animal to hold control over his family, to isolate them and enforce submission. He will abuse a pet to perpetuate a fearful environment; to prevent a victim from leaving or coerce them to return. They will batter an animal to punish a victim for showing independence.

First responders and professionals who investigate abuse should be aware and trained to observe the cycle of violence. Some states practice this observance and take it a step further by implementing cross-reporting laws. When an animal control officer is called to investigate animal abuse in a home with children, they are mandated to report child abuse when animal abuse is confirmed. Children are generally more willing to discuss what happened to a pet than they are to their own victimization. In Ohio, any child under the age of 18 years of age who commits cruelty to a pet, is required to undergo psychological evaluation to determine individual or family counseling as necessary. The legislation also permit’s the court to include a protection order for any companion animal in the home of the person seeking a criminal protection order, domestic violence protection order, a civil stalking order, a sexual offense protection order, or the approval of a civil domestic violence consent agreement. Often a partner will abuse a pet that is in the home as a tactic to keep the victim under control. It is understood that many victims will not leave when it puts their pets in harm’s way. When questioning victims and their children, first responders should be alert for signs of child and/or pet victimization. They should ask if the abuser or anyone else threatened to harm their pet and ask if they need help finding a safe place for their pet to go if they leave. Many victims will not prosecute their abuser however, animal cruelty prosecution can result in incarceration or treatment that is equal to results from a domestic violence prosecution.

Domestic Violence Shelters, Animal Shelters, and Humane Organizations can do much to offer protection for animal victims. When working with abuse victims in their safety planning, be sure they include their pets. Question them about any threats or injuries to their pets. Work with legislators to include pets in orders of protection and educate judges on the necessities of these inclusions. Team up with your local animal control and humane organizations and local domestic violence shelters to establish emergency housing of pets coming from homes experiencing violence. If there is no space available, establish a network of homes that provide emergency care for these pets through foster care agencies then incorporate these connections in school programs where they might reach children who are at risk of family violence. Also, many YWCA’s have pet shelter programs that are in partnership with the humane society, local clinics, kennels, stables, and veterinarians.

Unfortunately, victims of domestic violence often choose to stay in abusive relationships to protect their pets. A study shows that 71% of women seeking “safe haven” in domestic violence shelters had companion animals threatened, hurt, or killed by their abuser. Many victims never even go to a shelter because of this fear for their pets. It is in recognition of this fact that many states have passed laws including pets in court-issued orders of protection and to include any animal that is harmed or threatened with harm in the state’s definition of “domestic violence.” Society doesn’t consider animal cruelty as severe as violence against humans but it is increasingly viewed as a serious issue by professionals in law enforcement and mental health. Effective prosecution of animal abuse can provide early and timely response to those who are, or who are at risk of becoming, a threat to the safety of others. It is a tool for protection for victims of family violence, developing new skills and understanding which will help build a truly compassionate society.