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Domestic Violence Issues
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors where one partner tries to maintain control of the other through the use of physical force, intimidation and threats. The abuse can take many different forms:
Kicking, punching, shoving, slapping, pushing, burning, biting, choking or kicking.
Forced or pressured sexual acts, criticizing his/her body parts and rape (even if married).
Excessive jealousy, crazy making, mind games, isolation from friends and family, making the victim feel worthless and threats.
Name calling and put-downs.
Attacking the victim's spiritual or religious beliefs or misquoting scripture to justify abuse.
Controlling the victim's economic status and basic needs, withholding money and prohibiting the victim to work.
Destruction of victim's property, vandalism and harming or killing pets.
Threatening to "out" the victim's sexual orientation.
Using fear of deportation.
In California , Domestic Violence is a crime.
Domestic Violence is about power and control over another person. It is not a problem with anger. Rarely do you see an abuser act violently with friends, coworkers or a boss. It is a Jeckyl and Hyde personality that confuses others who learn of a person's violence with their partners. Abusers can act charming, loving and attentive…when they want to. Drinking, drugs, genetics, the victim's behavior or stress does not cause domestic violence. It is learned behavior. It is learned in the home by observation and reinforcement before the age of 10. Domestic Violence happens in all races, religions and socio-economic groups.
An abusive relationship is not abusive at all times. It follows a three-phase cycle known as The Cycle of Violence.
A relationship starts in the honeymoon phase. Over time, tension starts building. Usually when the abuser feels that the victim is sufficiently "hooked" into the relationship, either through marriage, moving in together or getting pregnant, the abuse starts. The honeymoon phase is what "hooks" the victim back into the relationship and keeps the cycle moving. Over time the cycle reduces to just tension/abuse and the episodes of violence get more frequent and severe.
Characteristics of Victims
- Found in all socio-economic, educational, racial and age groups.
- Many battered women report violence in family of origin.
- Many report marrying young to escape violent homes.
- Many, but not all, witnessed some form of abuse as children.
- Low self-esteem. Question their right to have any better life than they presently have.
- Underestimate themselves and believe they cannot do better.
- Feel powerless and believe they have no choices.
- Hopeless and immobilized by the abuser taking control and have lost the ability to make independent decisions and changes.
- Depression, suicide, substance abuse and psychosomatic illnesses are behaviors observed with victims.
- Lack of trust due to history of isolation and feelings of helplessness.
- Chronic apprehension. Agitation and anxiety about routine decisions.
- Unable to relax, disturbed sleeping patterns, always on guard.
- Peacekeepers. Trying to keep the home calm.
- Take blame.
- Feel guilty because they disturb neighbors; their children have problems and feel they are responsible for the abuse.
- Usually female, although not always.
- Caregivers. Desire to nurture, rescue and take care of others.
Characteristics of Abusers
- Found in all socio-economic, educational, racial and age groups.
- Generational history of family violence.
- Is a witness for mistreatment and disrespect for women.
- Poor impulse control.
- Emotional dependency.
- Limited capacity for delayed gratification.
- Insatiable ego needs.
- Low self-esteem.
- Perception of self as having poor social skills; describes relationship with victims as the closest they have ever known.
- Jealous. Has great fear of being abandoned or cheated on.
- Desire to isolate partner.
- Lacks awareness of others' personal boundaries.
- Believe that his forcible behavior is his responsibility and obligation to the good of the family.
- Apparently feels no guilt on an emotional level, even after recognition of abusive episodes.
- Usually male, although not always.
Understanding Why Victims Stay
- Victim fears they will be beaten more severely if they try to leave, abusers often threaten to find and kill or harm the victim and their families.
- Victim depends on the batterer for food, shelter, economic security, immigration status, or other necessities.
- Victims believe they will have no one to talk to, understand or believes in them.
- Victims believe their children need two parents, and do not want to raise them alone.
- The victim wants to keep the family together and live up to a religious commitment to remain with their partner.
- The victim does not believe they can take care of themselves or their children alone.
- Victims want to be loyal to the relationship and stand by their partner.
- The victim believes the abuser's promises to change or get help.
- The abuser has threatened to commit suicide if the victim leaves.
- Victims believe that no one else will want them.
- The victim rationalizes that things could be worse with someone else.
- The victim is ashamed of the situation and believes that others will think negatively of them.
- Victims believe others will think they are low-class or stupid for being involved in an abusive relationship.
- They believe they must be in a relationship to be a complete person.
- They fear deportation.
- They fear being "outed".
- They believe it is their job to make the relationship work.
- They believe they can save the abuser and help them get better.
Victims leave their abusers an average of five to seven times before they are able to leave permanently. The victim is in greater danger when they decide to leave. Only the victim can decide what is best for them and their children. It is important to recognize that they are the experts in their relationship, not an outsider. Never tell a victim "Just leave him/her". The victim must develop a safety plan. They will know when it will be the best time to leave.
The Effects of Domestic Violence on Children
Children who live in homes where abuse occurs are also the victims of the violence. They may be injured by an act of violence, they feel helpless, blame themselves for not preventing the violence, or for causing it, and also may be abused or neglected.
The children experience high levels of anxiety, experience symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and experience difficulties in school. Children living in violent homes are more likely to be truant, act out and behave violently. Violence is a learned behavior.
- Self mutilation
- Head aches
- Tummy Aches
- Low self-esteem
- Delayed emotional development
- Lack of Bonding
- Feelings of Guilt
Teen Relationship Abuse
It is estimated that abuse is involved in 28% of teen dating relationships. Teen Relationship Abuse and Adult Domestic Violence have some of the same characteristics. They both are based in an increase in controlling behaviors, the abuser uses power and control to keep them in the relationship, the abuse becomes more severe when the victim tries to end the relationship, and both follow the Cycle of Violence.
There are also some unique characteristics of Teen Relationship Abuse:
- Teens naturally isolate themselves from adults and may believe that spending all your time with your partner is what you do when you are in love.
- Teens lack experience with intimate relationships; and may not have information about what makes a relationship healthy. Further, they may have witnessed violence between their parents.
- Teens may believe jealousy and control are signs of love.
- Physical violence happens as often, if not more often than in adult relationships. The physical violence sometimes turns into "mutual combat" situations.
- Teens are reluctant to seek help because they do not want to put their newly acquired independence at risk.
- There is a great deal of peer pressure to be "with" someone. Being in a relationship gives teens social status.
Dating Bill of Rights and Responsibilities
Every teenager has certain rights and responsibilities in a Dating relationship
- To refuse a date without feeling guilty.
- To say no to physical closeness.
- To end a relationship.
- To have an equal relationship.
- To have friends other than your dating partner.
- To participate in activities that do not include your partner.
- To have your own feelings and be able to express them.
- To set limits—to say yes or no as you choose.
- To have your limits, values, feelings and beliefs respected.
- To say "I Love You" without having sex.
- To be heard.
- To be yourself, even if it is different from everyone else or from what others want you to be.
- To ask for a date and accept no for an answer.
- To determine your limits and values.
- To respect the limits, values, feelings, and beliefs of others.
- To communicate clearly and honestly.
- To ask for help when you need it.
- To be considerate.
- To check your actions and decisions to determine whether they are good or bad for you.
If your dating partner has slapped, pushed or threatened you, it is important to take it seriously. It means that they are trying to control you, and there is a good chance it will get worse if you do not do something about it. If you are in an abusive relationship, a good first step is to reach out and get help.
Domestic Violence: The Crime
If You Call The Police
- Call 911 and tell them you are in danger or injured.
- After the officer arrives note the time, date and the name of the officer you talked with. Ask the officer for the case number.
- You may request an Emergency Protective Order (EPO) from the law enforcement officer who has responded to the scene.
- The police officer calls the Judicial Officer and explains your situation.
- The Judicial Officer may grant a restraint on conduct, stay away, move out and/or a temporary child custody order.
- The order will be valid for only 5 court days.
- You will need to file for and obtain a permanent restraining order from the court within those 5 court days.
- If you told one officer about the incident, but another officer writes the report, make sure you tell the reporting officer all the details.
- Go to the emergency room and have the doctor or nurse document the abuse and report it to the police, if it has not already been reported.
- You can get a copy of the police report for yourself.
- If the report has errors or is incomplete, you may request that a corrected report be written.
- If bruises or injuries show up after the report was written, go to the law enforcement headquarters where the report was written and ask for pictures to be taken.
If Felony Charges Are Filed
Once the batterer is in custody, the Arraignment will be held within two court days. If the batterer has been released from custody, the Arraignment will be held within 5 court days.
- At the Arraignment, a Preliminary Hearing will be set to take place within 10 court days.
- At the Preliminary Hearing the batterer may plead guilty or no contest, or you may be required to testify before the Judicial Officer. When you receive a subpoena, you must come to court.
- If the batterer pleads guilty or no contest, the sentencing will take place within 20 days.
- If the batterer pleads not guilty, then you may be required to testify before the Judicial Officer.
- If, at the Preliminary Hearing the accused is ordered to stand trial, the case will be transferred to Superior Court for arraignment two weeks later.
- At the Trial Confirmation the accused may plead guilty or no contest, or the case will be confirmed for trial.
- If the accused pleads guilty or no contest, the sentencing will be set within 20 days.
- If confirmed for trial, you as the victim will be required to testify in Superior Court before a Judicial Officer and/or jury. When you receive a subpoena, you must come to court.
If Misdemeanor Charges Are Filed
- Once the batterer has been arrested, the first court appearance is the Arraignment. If the batterer is in custody, the Arraignment will be held within two court days. If the batterer has been released from custody, the Arraignment will be held within 45 days.
- At the Arraignment the batterer is notified of the charges. The batterer may or may not plead guilty or no contest at this time.
- If the batterer pleads guilty or no contest sentencing will usually take place at this time.
- If the batterer pleads not guilty, a Pretrial Hearing is set two to three weeks later.
- If at the Pretrial Hearing the batterer pleads guilty or no contest, sentencing will usually be that day.
- If the batterer pleads not guilty, a trial date will be set. As the victim, you will be required to attend the trial and testify.
If An Arrest Is Not Made
- If the officer is unable to make an arrest, and the batterer is present at the scene, you may make a citizen's arrest. The officer will help you do this.
- If an arrest could not be made because the batterer has left the scene, the law enforcement agency may seek a complaint (warrant) through the District Attorney's Office. After the arrest warrant is issued, the batterer will be arrested when found. You will be notified when you need to come to court.
- If no complaint is requested by the law enforcement agency, you as the victim may contact the District Attorney's Office and ask to speak to the Complaint Clerk. They will locate your police report, review it, and if appropriate, prepare a complaint for filing.
- The District Attorney's Office may file felony or misdemeanor charges depending on the facts of your case. In some cases, there may not be enough evidence to warrant a complaint.
- You may contact the District Attorney's Office at 582-0326 or the Criminal Division of the Kings County Superior Court at 582-1010, extension 3042, to find out court dates. During this call ask for your case number for all future inquires.
Victim/Witness Assistance Program
- As a victim of a crime you may be eligible for assistance from this government program.
- Upon request, an advocate can assist victims during court appearances.
- You must cooperate with law enforcement and the District Attorney.
- The program may be able to help you file a claim for financial assistance for recovery of your medical and counseling expenses, wage loss or support (If these expenses are related to the crime).
- The program may also be able to provide support and guidance through the court process, give referrals to local resources and services, and possibly help with your emergency needs after the crime.
- You can contact the Victim/Witness Assistance Program at 582-3211, extension 2640.
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