Can Domestic Violence Be Filed Against Daughter-In-Law?

As per a HelpAge India report, daughter-in-law emerged as the major abuser of the elderly. Now abuse of a daughter-in-law is protected under various special laws of the country, whereas no such law is for the elderly. An interesting question arises, can an abused elderly mother-in-law take protection of any law against abuse by her daughter-in-law?

We will analyse this question in this article.

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (“Domestic Violence Act”) was enacted by the parliament in 2005 to provide for an effective protection of women who are victims of violence of any kind within the four walls of the house. Therefore the intention of the act was to safeguard women from domestic violence.

The domestic violence can be invoked only if persons are living in a Domestic Relationship which is defined u/s 2(f) as:

“domestic relationship” means a relationship between two persons who live or have, at any point of time, lived together in a shared household, when they are related by consanguinity, marriage, or through a relationship in the nature of marriage, adoption or are family members living together as a joint family.

Therefore, based on the above definition all family members living together as a joint family are considered to be in a domestic relationship.

The person who is facing domestic violence and can take shelter under the act is defined under section 2(a) as:

“aggrieved person” means any woman who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with the respondent and who alleges to have been subjected to any act of domestic violence by the respondent;

Therefore, any women in a domestic relationship and subjected to domestic violence can take shelter under the act. The person who are perpetrators of violence against whom she can proceed is defined under section 2(q) as:

“respondent” means any adult male person who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved person and against whom the aggrieved person has sought any relief under this Act. Provided that an aggrieved wife or female living in a relationship in the nature of a marriage may also file a complaint against a relative of the husband or the male partner.

This definition is in two parts, the first part defines the respondent as male members and the proviso also allows the women to proceed against any female relative of the husband or the male partner.

Ingredients:

There are three ingredients for taking recourse under the act:

  1. Recourse is available to women
  2. Who are in a domestic relationship
  3. Against a respondent

Pertinent Question:

Now we come to the pertinent question, can a mother-in-law take shelter under this act against domestic violence conducted by her daughter-in-law? The answer is ‘Yes’. Do refer to the above ingredients to take shelter under this act.

  1. Any woman can be an aggrieved person, the only qualification is that she ought to be in a domestic relationship.
  2. A domestic relationship is not only a relationship of husband and wife but also includes persons living in a joint family.
  3. The protection is available against a respondent, which includes any female relative of her husband or male partner.

Hence, based on the above, protection under Domestic Violence Act can be taken by an elderly mother-in-law against her abusive daughter-in-law.

The Delhi High Court in the case of Kusum Lata Sharma vs State & Anr, had allowed a mother-in-law to proceed against the daughter-in-law as a respondent under the Domestic Violence Act.

Offenses Requiring Sex Offender Registration

Florida took the first step in 1997 to make a list of sex offenders available on the internet as well as making that information also available by telephone hotline for people who do not have the internet. It is a requirement in Florida for those convicted of a sex crime to register and report between two and four times per year, to the Sheriff’s Office. Florida’s requirements include more than just an address to register as sex offenders are required to also report any instant message names and numbers, and email addresses to the Sheriff’s Office. A sex offender’s birth month is what is used to determine which months he/she will be required to report in. If they fail to report, submit to all restrictions or provide all information requested will have penalties that classify as felonies. Sex based crimes in Florida are divided into two categories, Sexual Offender and Sexual Predator.

Sexual Predators

Florida law states that all sex offenders are not always considered to be sexual predators, and that for this to happen, the offender must appear in court before a judge who considers the evidence and makes the designation. Even someone who was convicted of sex based crimes, this does not automatically mean they are a sexual predator. There are five different ways in Florida for someone to be classified a sexual predator. These include first time convictions of: lewd and lascivious behavior in front of someone under the age of 16, kidnapping, buying or selling child pornography, false imprisonment, or sexual battery. You should be aware that this applies even if the conviction occurred in another jurisdiction or state besides Florida.

Another way you can be designated a sexual predator is if you commit one of the above mentioned offenses and especially if you were found guilty of having committed other sexual offenses in the past. Past sexual offenses that can get you a designation of sexual predator include: sexual battery, kidnapping, unlawful sexual activity with a minor, false imprisonment, having a child perform sexually, luring or enticing a child or getting someone under 18 for prostitution. Lastly, anyone can be designated a sexual predator if they are determined to be a sexually violent predator at a civil commitment hearing.

Sexual Offenders

he courts in Florida provide three ways to designate someone a sexual offender. The first way includes if you attempt to commit or commit: luring or enticing a child, kidnapping a minor, sexual battery, false imprisonment of a minor, getting someone under 18 for prostitution unlawful sexual acts with a minor, sexual misconduct, selling or buying minors for sex trafficking, or computer pornography. The second way says if you have a conviction that occurred in another state or jurisdiction, you can be considered a sex offender in Florida. If a person has been designated a sexual offender in a different jurisdiction or state, Florida laws will also designate that person as such and they will be required to register their status. The third way says that under Florida laws, if someone attempts to commit or commits lewd and lascivious molestation, sexual battery or lewd or lascivious battery on someone 14 or older, they can be designated a sexual offender in Florida.

Nine Issues Regarding Domestic Violence in 2009

Domestic violence is on the rise, especially with people losing their jobs, losing their incomes, and facing a drastic reduction in lifestyle as is happening too frequently in ’09. The following are nine issues to consider with regard to domestic violence:

9. Domestic violence consists of physical abuse, and if there is physical abuse, call the police at once.

8. Domestic violence includes using economic abuse. This can include preventing someone from getting, keeping, or leaving a job, damaging someone’s credit rating, making a spouse ask for money, destroying checkbooks, credit cards, money or property, giving a spouse an allowance. Domestic violence can include using coercion or threats. Threats are statements which promise negative consequences for certain behaviors or actions; for example, I’ll kill you if you ever leave me.”

7. Using intimidation. Making a spouse or significant other afraid by using looks, actions, gestures, intoxication, silent treatment, smashing things, destroying property, harming pets, displaying weapons, yelling, stalking, slamming doors, driving recklessly, acting crazy, invincible, or like I have nothing to lose.

6. Using emotional abuse. Putting someone down, making someone feel bad about themself, calling someone names, making someone think she’s crazy, playing mind games, humiliating someone, making her feel guilty, using things that matter to her against her, negatively comparing her to others, expecting perfection, unreasonable demands or expectations.

5. Using others. Using the children to relay messages. Using visitation to harass someone. Threatening to take the children away. Using custody of the children as leverage. Abusing the children. Sexual abuse of the children. Kidnapping the children. Degrading the spouse or significant other about her relationships. Using your job, friends, family, religion as leverage.

4. Using isolation. Controlling someone’s access to resources such as birth control, reproductive choice, medical attention, money, education, employment opportunities, family, friends, transportation, phone use. Using jealousy to justify actions. Embarrassing her in front of others. Kidnapping her. Convincing her that seeing her family or friends is harmful to the relationship.

3. If any of these occur, even when there is no police involvement, seek domestic violence counseling. There are domestic violence counselors and counseling agencies throughout the United States. There are hotlines to handle crisis calls.

2. Obtain a personal protection order. Laws in Michigan and many other states include personal protection orders that can be obtained if you are fearful of physical violence from someone and have a factual basis with previous incidents for your concerns. A personal protection order is a court order prohibiting a person from any, some, or all of the following, including: assaulting, stalking, following, entering the property, removing minor children, threatening to kill or physically injure someone, interfering with someone at his or her place of employment, purchasing or owning a fire arm.

1. Talk to an attorney at once. Find out what your legal rights are, and find out what you can do to protect yourself. If there is a need for a divorce, make sure that you are fully protected because a divorce where there is domestic violence is handled in a much more discreet and careful manner than a normal divorce where everyone is on the same page. Over the years in my career, I have had people murdered and horribly, physically and emotionally abused, based upon domestic violence. I take it very seriously. Make sure that your attorney not only has a background in family law, but is also familiar with issues in domestic violence.

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

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.