Sliding Scale for Domestic Violence

One thing that becomes very noticeable to someone who’s not only traveled around but also had relationships with partners from different places is the vast difference in how domestic violence is treated across countries and across cultures within the same country.

If you live in rural Texas or in Queensland in Australia, you most likely will get away with serious violence against your wife or your children. If you live in a socially liberal area or are married to a feminist, a slap could send you to jail. I propose bringing some sanity to this matter by revising domestic violence laws based on severity of violence committed.

Namely I propose a sliding scale, based on severity of violence, and appropriate sentencing based on the place on this sliding scale.

The sliding scale I propose would go from severe brutality (life-endangering violence, guns, knives, sulfuric acid, severe injuries) to brutality (broken bones, injuries, wounds, strangling) to severe violence (sticks, whips, visible bruises) to serious violence (punching, kicking, throwing, dragging by hair) to mild violence (slaps, light punches).

Sentencing would be done based on the place on this sliding scale, with severe brutality carrying sentences of over 5 years (over 10 years in case of life-threatening violence); brutality of 3 to 5 years; severe violence 1 to 2 years; serious violence three to nine months; and mild violence a fine.

We see these kind of sliding scales in laws all the time. With murder, there’s first-degree to third-degree. With theft, larceny, assault, we likewise see distinctions made based on seriousness. Stealing a Porsche draws a heavier punishment than does stealing a postcard. Similar sanity needs to be applied to prosecution of domestic violence.

Such sanity is utterly lacking when some men smash their wives’ skulls and wind up not only free but with custody of the children, while other men go to jail for a slap. By standard of “all violence is a crime,” most men would be in prison. By standard of “women must put up with anything” or “family must be preserved at all costs,” people who commit horrendous brutality not only go free but get to remain in charge of the family. There is no justice here, and there is also no reason here. As to the rest of the legal system, reason and justice must be applied to prosecution of domestic violence. Creating a sliding scale such as what I’m proposing would accomplish that task.

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How Domestic Violence Allegations Can Affect Child Custody

It is indisputable that many lives across the country are torn apart by domestic violence. Domestic violence has a terrible and lasting impact on every life it touches, whether the affected person is a witness or victim of the abuse. In the past, domestic violence often was treated as a private matter to be handled discreetly within the family. However, society’s willingness to overlook abuse in the home has changed. With the change in societal attitude have come corresponding changes in the law.

The unfortunate consequence of passing tougher laws to protect victims of domestic violence has been a willingness among some people to take advantage of these laws and use them for their own gain. This has been particularly true in cases of divorce and child custody disputes.

Factors Affecting Child Custody in Illinois

In Illinois, the court will base its custody decision on the best interests of the child. Thus, the court will review the individual circumstances of the parents and child and determine what living and visitation arrangement will best meet and further the child’s, rather than the parents’, interests.

Although Illinois family courts have the authority to consider any relevant factor in determining what is in the best interests of the child, they generally look at the following eight factors before making a custody decision:

  • What are the parents’ wishes
  • What are the child’s wishes
  • What type of interactions and relationships does the child have with each parent, any siblings or other family members
  • How well adjusted is the child to his or her home, school and community
  • How is the mental and physical health of each parent and the child
  • Has there been any physical violence or the potential for violence in the home, whether the violence was directed at the child or another person
  • Are both parents willing and able to facilitate and encourage an ongoing relationship between the child and the other parent or is there animosity between the parents
  • Have there been any occurrences of ongoing abuse, whether directed at the child or another person

There is a presumption that it is in the child’s best interests to maintain as much contact and interaction as possible with both parents. However, this presumption is abandoned in cases where claims of domestic abuse and/or sexual abuse have been made against one of the parents. In these cases, it is presumed not to be in the child’s best interest to live with the accused parent. Depending on the extent of the abuse alleged, the parent also may not be granted visitation rights, or the visitation may have to be supervised.

False Allegations of Abuse

Regrettably, many parents have discovered that alleging their soon-to-be ex-spouses abused them or the children is a surefire way to influence custody decisions. The Illinois Domestic Abuse Act (IDAA) – a law that was meant to protect victims of abuse – unwittingly has become a powerful tool for parents seeking to get custody of their children through whatever means necessary.

Under the IDAA, domestic abuse is defined quite liberally as any “physical abuse, harassment, intimidation of a dependent, interference with personal liberty or willful deprivation.” While what constitutes physical abuse is more straightforward, the definitions of harassment, intimidation and interference with personal liberty are very subjective and open-ended, giving the court wide latitude to determine what is and is not domestic abuse under state law.

If a person successfully claims domestic abuse under the IDAA, he or she can receive a protection order against the alleged abuser. The protection order will entitle the accuser to sole occupation of the home, if they share a residence. Protection orders have been successfully used in custody hearings to deprive parents of not only physical custody of their children, but also visitation rights.

This is not to say that every allegation of abuse is false or fabricated. Certainly, there are parents and children who have suffered violence and sexual abuse in their homes.

However, this does not mean that every claim of domestic violence is legitimate or that there may not be an ulterior motive for making the claim. When people use false allegations of domestic violence as a tool to get what they want, it undermines the protections of the legal system and delegitimizes the valid claims of true victims of abuse. It also has the unacceptable consequence of stripping good, well-meaning parents of their rights to be involved as much as possible in their children’s lives.


There are ways to fight against false allegations of domestic violence and protect your rights to be involved in your child’s life. From attacking claims of abuse to bringing witnesses to testify on your behalf to raising questions about the true motivations for the allegations, a claim of domestic abuse does not have to be the end of your fight to get custody of your children. For more information, contact an attorney experienced in handling child custody and domestic violence matters.

Domestic Violence Definitions

Performing violent acts in the home is a serious crime. In recent years many programs have been put in place in order to promote the reporting and intolerance of domestic violence occurrences. So what exactly constitutes domestic violence? By knowing what acts can be considered forms of domestic related violence you are better able to protect yourself and your loved ones from these situations.

The Definition of Domestic Violence

In the United States, each state has the ability to make their own laws and definitions concerning violence in the home. However, in general this illegal activity of violence is defined as an act done by a family member or household member against another family member or household member in order to cause harm, be it physical or otherwise. Some common acts and offenses that can fall under this classification can include:

· Causing physical harm and abuse
· Physical assault, such as making threats or causing serious intimidation
· Performing physical battery and other forms of violent contact
· Bodily injuries, be they minor or severe
· Performing sexual assault and battery, including spousal rape
· Threatening or implying the intention to cause harm to the other household member

These are some of the acts that can usually fall under the definition of domestic violence. This crime can be punished through fines, jail time, probation, legal orders, or any combination of those items, depending on the severity of the act. If you have been accused of committing this crime it is important you seek legal counsel to protect your rights and freedoms.

For More Information

Because the laws concerning violence in the home vary from state to state it is important to take measures to find out what laws you are responsible for abiding by within your home state. If you would like to know more about domestic violence or criminal defense law, visit today.

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