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States and the federal government are increasing the penalties and prosecutions of domestic violence in an attempt to curb cases of domestic abuse. And it's important for victims of domestic violence to report cases of abuse so they can seek protection and to address both specific violent episodes and to hopefully end the cycle of violence.
But many people aren't aware of what kinds of relationships are considered "domestic" when it comes to domestic abuse. While the stereotypical case might be a husband physically assaulting his wife, domestic violence can occur between dating partners or family members living in the same household.
In most states, you don't have to be married to an abuser to be a victim of domestic violence. For example, Texas has a specific statute defining dating violence as violence committed against a person with whom the actor has a dating relationship:
Sec. 71.0021. DATING VIOLENCE.
(b) For purposes of this title, "dating relationship" means a relationship between individuals who have or have had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on consideration of:
(1) the length of the relationship;
(2) the nature of the relationship; and
(3) the frequency and type of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
And in many states, like Minnesota, have domestic violence statutes that cover "people involved in a significant romantic or sexual relationship."
Most states also include parents and children under domestic violence laws. Florida's domestic violence statute covers all persons "related by blood or marriage" so long as they are "currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit." And Maryland extends domestic abuse protection to persons related by blood, marriage, or adoption, as well as "vulnerable adults."
Therefore, children and even parents may be victims of domestic violence.
If you are, or think you may be a victim of domestic violence, you should contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline immediately at 1-800-799-7233. Domestic violence cases can be legally and emotionally complex, and there may be things a domestic violence attorney can do for you that you probably can't.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.