What Is Domestic Violence Who Does It Affect?
Domestic violence is a serious crime against society. However, with few exceptions, the actors and victims are family members or couples who have experienced a close personal relationship. Perhaps the most common type of domestic violence is spousal abuse whereby the husband verbally humiliates and/or physically assaults his wife. Assaultive behavior includes slapping, punching, kicking, stabbing, and shooting the victim. Psychological abuse takes many forms such as constant criticism, disrespect, financial control, manipulation of children, strict limitations on the victim's social life, and threats on the victim's life. The main objective of these behaviors is control. The victim of domestic violence will often fail to report such abuse out of fear of the actor, sympathy for such person, guilt, financial problems, concerns about the children's welfare, and strong, although often misguided religious beliefs.
A child is directly affected by domestic violence when he/she is the target of physical or psychological attacks. Should a child witness such abuse perpetrated by one parent upon the other, he/she is indirectly affected. In either case, the minor will likely experience feelings of helplessness, fear, guilt, or distrust of one or both parties. Should the child go untreated his/her perception of an appropriate relationship may become distorted. It has been statistically proven that boys who witness their father abuse their mother on a regular basis or who have been targets of domestic violence, are prone to becoming generally aggressive and potentially abusive themselves. When a young girl is the target or witness to such behavior directed toward her mother, she may become involved in a similar relationship later in life.
Domestic violence means the perpetration of one or more of the following criminal offenses upon a person protected under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1990: homicide, assault, terroristic threats, kidnapping, criminal restraint, false imprisonment, sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, lewdness, criminal mischief, burglary, criminal trespass, harassment, stalking.
A Victim of Domestic Violence means a person protected by the domestic violence act and includes any person who is 18 years of age or older, or who is an emancipated minor, and who has been subjected to domestic violence by: spouse, former spouse, any other person who is a present or former household member, or who, regardless of age, has been subjected to domestic violence by a person with whom the victim has a child in common, or with whom the victim anticipates having a child in common, if one of the parties is pregnant, or who, regardless of age, has been subjected to domestic violence by a person with whom the victim has had a dating relationship. The domestic violence assailant must be over the age of 18 or emancipated at the time of the offense.
The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act does not define a victim of domestic violence by age, physical or psychological condition or sex. An unemancipated minor who commits an act of domestic violence may not be prosecuted as an adult domestic violence defendant but can be prosecuted under the juvenile delinquency laws. The entry of pre- or post- dispositional restraints can also be considered. A minor is considered emancipated from his or her parents when the minor: has been married; has entered military service; has a child or is pregnant; or has been previously declared by a court or an administrative agency to be emancipated.
When a T.R.O. is granted, a return date is set by the judge. Both parties are summoned to court on the day in question. At that time, the judge will hear from the victim and defendant and decide whether or not to grant a Final Restraining Order (F.R.O.)
Should the incident occur after court hours,
on holidays, or weekends, the victim should phone the police or respond to
police headquarters. After questioning the victim and determining that she
qualifies for a T.R.O. based on information provided, said police officer
shall contact the municipal court judge by phone. The judge will then question
the victim and issue a T.R.O., if warranted.
Restraining Orders can provide for various
forms of relief including a no contact provision, temporary removal of the
accused from the household, child custody and visitation rights, monetary
support for victim and children, a ban on possession of weapons, and a provision
barring the actor from the victim's residence and place of employment.
If the victim has failed to notify the
police prior to obtaining a T.R.O., she may proceed to her local precinct
and sign a criminal complaint against the abuser. Note that when a police
officer responds to a scene of domestic violence and is satisfied that an
act of domestic violence has occurred, he/she must file a complaint, whether
victim wishes to file or not.
Furthermore, a victim of domestic violence may file a criminal complaint and/or a civil complaint. This distinction is made because some victims may want to obtain a restraining order but not necessarily pursue a criminal prosecution.
B) Contrary to popular belief, alcohol and drugs are not the primary cause of domestic violence. They may however, contribute to more violent behavior by the actor.
C) Even if the victim obtains a final restraining order, there are no guarantees that the abuser will not return.