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Domestic violence can leave both crippling physical and emotional injuries and lingering scars. Domestic violence occurs when a crime is committed against a victim by someone with whom the victim is, or previously has been involved in a relationship with or someone who lives in the same household as the victim.
Domestic violence can include any type of physical harm caused by someone who fits the above definition. In some states, it may also include a pattern of intimidation or fear that leads a victim to believe that harm is imminent.
Generally, a familial relationship (such as siblings, parent-child, etc.) does not excuse — and it never justifies — physical violence. Victims are entitled to relief, just as victims of other violent crimes are.
The first thing that a domestic violence victim should do is also the hardest: getting away from the person committing the violence. It may take time, but in the end it is the right decision. Many organizations across the country can assist domestic violence victims in making this transition.
A victim should report the crime to the police. Additionally, the victim should seek the assistance of a friend, relative, or shelter for a temporary place to stay and emotional support. The police can provide resources about safe houses and emergency shelters so that the victim, and the victim's children, can have a safe place to stay.
Once police are notified, they will typically make an arrest. A restraining order may be issued to prevent the perpetrator from coming near the victim. If the abuser violates a restraining order, they may be thrown back into jail.
While the law cannot undo the emotional and physical harm caused by domestic violence, it does seek to protect victims and help them get the relief they need.
A conviction on domestic violence-related charges can lead to serious penalties, such as an extended stay in prison.
While there are many stories about prosecutors dropping charges after victims refuse to cooperate, prosecutors are starting to more frequently take action against abusers without the assistance or consent of a victim. Prosecutors try to look for signs that a victim isn't participating because of a pattern of abuse or threats.
In addition to criminal proceedings, a domestic violence victim may also have a strong civil case against the abuser. A successful lawsuit could mean the victim recovering monetary damages for medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified domestic violence lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local domestic violence attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.
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