Stopping Domestic Violence
There are a number of ways domestic violence survivors, family members of survivors or abusers, and other witnesses can stop domestic violence, such as educating oneself on what domestic violence is. It is not just physical abuse or physical violence. Domestic abuse can also be mental or emotional abuse.
Domestic violence is defined as a violent act committed by one family member or household member against another family member or household member. These persons could include loved ones such as a spouse, an intimate partner with whom one resides, a parent, a child, and other family members defined by states in their domestic abuse statutes.
How Can Survivors Protect Themselves?
One way a survivor can seek to end domestic violence is by filing for a protective order. The survivor files a petition requesting the court issue an “ex parte" (or restraining) order against the abuser. Review FindLaw's "Domestic Violence Information By State" to learn about the laws in your state that are related to domestic abuse and intimate partner violence.
In any event, victims should understand that they have options when leaving domestic abuse situations and resources are available to help them after they leave and enable them to form healthy relationships in the future. This section provides information to help those interested in stopping domestic violence, including restraining orders, a primer on how to file a lawsuit against your abuser in civil court, and answers to frequently asked questions about how to stop domestic violence.
History of Police Responses
Law enforcement officers are often the first authorities involved in responses to domestic violence. Attitudes and education amongst police regarding domestic violence has changed dramatically over the years and brought changes in how situations and individuals are treated.
Since the 1980s, many police departments have undergone reforms and instituted special initiatives to help better respond to incidents of domestic abuse. Some jurisdictions' law enforcement agencies have entire divisions dedicated to dealing with domestic violence. As a result, officers take domestic abuse, family violence, dating violence, and intimate partner violence more seriously.
Some jurisdictions have established domestic violence programs in which criminal justice and social service agencies work in conjunction with law enforcement to provide protection and support to victims of domestic violence. These domestic violence programs offer a wide variety of support options, including access to mental health resources, victim advocates (who provide advocacy services both in and out of court), and domestic violence shelters. These programs also promote domestic violence awareness.
While it may be believed that most forms of domestic violence only affect women, men are also victims of domestic abuse, sexual abuse, and sexual assault, as well. The programs mentioned above are meant to aid everyone regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, race, etc. With the proliferation of social media, these domestic violence programs have a wider reach for their advocacy programs.
Orders of Protection and Restraining Orders
There are a number of protective or restraining orders a court may issue to protect the victims of domestic violence. Which of these are available will depend on the jurisdiction and the facts of the individual case. Some common protective orders include:
- Emergency Protection Orders are short-term protective orders given to a victim by the police or a magistrate when their abuser is arrested for domestic violence. They are typically valid for a very short period of time, which permits the victim an opportunity to file for a longer-term protection order.
- Protection Orders are available in every state. They may prevent contact altogether, limit the reasons for contact, order that the abuser keep a particular distance from the victim, order the abuser to move out of a shared residence, order the surrender of firearms by the abuser, forbid the purchase of new weapons by abusers, or order the abuser to attend counseling.
- Restraining Orders require or forbid certain actions that are frequently similar to protection orders.
- Criminal Protection Orders are requested in criminal court, rather than in family court.
Which kind of protection or restraining order is available depends on the kind of court or officer to whom the request is made and what sort of process is underway.
Where to Turn for Help
Victims of domestic violence or intimate partner abuse have a number of places they can turn to in order to get help. If they are in immediate physical danger, they can call 911 for emergency assistance. In a non-emergency, a victim can still seek the protection of law enforcement. Many law enforcement entities make referrals to agencies and providers which can provide safe shelter during an investigation. Doctors, dentists, clergy, and a child's school officials can also provide assistance as mandatory reporters of domestic violence. Certain nonprofit organizations, Legal Aid, and family law attorneys are able to assist a victim in seeking the protection of the police and courts. They can also help victims find other resources to support someone escaping abuse.
Learn About Stopping Domestic Violence
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
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