Domestic violence occurs when a person engages in abusive behavior against a marital partner, family member, or close social acquaintance. Also known as domestic abuse or spousal abuse, domestic violence may include acts such as: assault and battery, economic deprivation, sexual threats, or stalking.
Here are several factors that make it especially difficult for authorities to uncover, investigate, and deter domestic violence:
- Lack of reporting by victims for fear of retaliation from their abusers
- The financial dependency of victims on their partners’ income
- The victim’s unwillingness to testify against the abuser
- The development of "battered person syndrome"
- The desire to save the dysfunctional relationship
- Other issues, such a guilt and withdrawal
In addition to other claims such assault or battery, in many jurisdictions, you may include domestic violence as a separate claim in your lawsuit. Your "domestic abuse" claim won’t cancel out other possible claims, such as assault, battery, or intentional infliction of emotional distress. Therefore, there is no reason to shy away from this viable claim if your situation warrants it.
Domestic violence and abuse leads to a criminal case. This might discourage some victims who pity their abusing partners without realizing that they are becoming part of mechanism for abuse.
Even though the sentence for domestic violence may be harsh, by initiating a criminal case, you help to deter abusive conduct. Further, what many victims may not realize is that their abusers may benefit from psychological counseling designed to treat their destructive behaviors.
In addition to initiating a criminal case, a domestic violence victim can also bring civil action against abusers. If a criminal case is successful, civil action will also likely be successful. Civil actions for domestic violence are considered "intentional torts."
While some states may have limitations on family members suing each other civilly for domestic violence, most don’t. Even the states that do limit such lawsuits make special exceptions.
If you have been a victim of violence, ongoing abuse, or even one incident that made you fear for your safety, you may need to speak with a qualified family lawyer. An attorney can help you file a restraining order and can help you pursue civil and criminal claims. Remember that your communications with an attorney are always confidential.