The crime of domestic violence occurs in every state and affects both men and women from all social, educational and economic backgrounds. Domestic violence can be at the hands of a spouse, someone you are dating or living with.
The Criminal Penalties For Domestic Violence
In criminal court, domestic violence cases are usually charged as a misdemeanor offense. However, if the injuries are significant and the victim has agreed to testify against the defendant, most prosecutors will file the charges as a felony and proceed to trial. In most states, an aggravated domestic violence charge often translates into a felony battery.
In most jurisdictions, punishment for domestic violence can include jail, fines, community service and mandatory attendance in a twenty-week anger management program. To further protect the victim, the court can also issue a protective order enjoining the defendant from engaging in future abusive conduct toward the victim. This is also known as a temporary restraining order. Violating the order is a separate criminal violation known as contempt of court.
The Individual and Social Costs Of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence does not need to be physical to be damaging. Domestic violence can also cause the victim to endure profound emotional troubles including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. The personal cost to the victim can be devastating.
Domestic violence occurs in many different types of families and relationships. However women are still at a much greater risk for domestic violence than men. With respect to children, witnessing domestic violence is itself a traumatic event.
According to mental health experts, domestic abuse usually begins slowly and progresses into more pronounced incidents of rage, anger and violence. After an episode of abuse, the offending spouse will often express contrition for having lost his or her control and will promise the other never to engage in such behavior again. Unfortunately, the statistics tell a different story. Acts of rage and violence are rarely isolated events, and according to law enforcement, over 70% of first time offenders who commit an act of domestic violence, will commit it again within twelve months.
Causes And Consequences Of Domestic Violence
There is no one cause of domestic violence - yet there are many consequences for both the victim and the offending partner. In many instances, the offender has been a victim of physical violence him or herself or has witnessed domestic violence in the home as a child. The propensity of such offenders to act out their aggression is often aggravated by the excessive use of alcohol and drugs.
According to national studies, as many as one in five women are victims of domestic violence. According to the FBI, 40% to 60% of men who abuse women also abuse children. The cycle of dysfunction is therefore perpetuated.
Finally, domestic violence can also damage a victim’s job performance. Recent labor studies have shown that victims of domestic violence tend to miss substantial time from work. Today, many states offer victims of domestic violence the legal right to take time off from work in order to take care of their physical and emotional condition and the resulting circumstances that often follows. At the federal level, the Family and Medical Leave Act permits employees to take up to twelve weeks off every twelve months to attend to their own health conditions or that of a close family member.
If your spouse or partner is acting out in aggressive and abusive ways, reach out for someone you know and trust as soon as you can. It could be a friend or neighbor. If you sustained injuries, you will need to call the police immediately and tell your physician about the circumstances so it can be documented in your medical records. Finally, know this telephone number: 1-800-799-7233, it’s the National Domestic Violence Hotline and they are ready to help you at any time of the day or night.
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