Sometimes, taking note of the statistics surrounding the issue of domestic violence can help one realize that they are not alone. If you or someone you care about is the victim of domestic violence, it is important to know that help is available.
The unfortunate fact is that 25 percent of women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. The statistics for male victims are slightly lower. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), intimate partner violence accounts for 15 percent of all violent crime, and in two thirds of homicide cases in which the victim is a female, the perpetrator was a family member or intimate partner. A sad side effect is that, annually, over 3 million children witness domestic violence and are simultaneously the victims of neglect. But there is hope.
The NCADV reports that every day, domestic violence hotlines receive more than 20,000 calls, and counselors provide advice, resources, and reassurance. Many victims follow through with legal action, a process made much easier when you find a caring lawyer who is knowledgeable about the details of the laws regarding domestic violence.
The first thing that has to be established in any legal context is the definition and qualification of what constitutes domestic violence. According to the American Bar Association, domestic violence is defined as “a pattern of behavior in which one intimate partner uses physical violence, coercion, threats, intimidation, isolation or emotional, sexual or economic abuse to control the other partner in the relationship.” It is not confined to the stereotypical situation of a husband hitting a wife, or even the reverse. There is a range of behaviors and situations that qualify as domestic violence, and for which there is legal recourse. Consider the following list of abusive behaviors:
Threatening household members
Creating work disturbances
Stalking (in-person and cyberstalking)
Withholding access to money or food
Isolating the victim from friends and family
Making harassing telephone calls
Threatening to take the victim’s children away
Making demeaning comments
Use of physical force to make household members comply
Causing harm to household pets
If any of these take place, especially on a repeated basis, it is advisable to leave the situation immediately, and to take legal action as soon as possible in order to prevent further events. In these delicate situations, when there are hurt feelings as well as hurt bodies, it is important to have a caring lawyer that will work hard for you. A skillful lawyer at the highest level of legal representation will ensure that you are safe, that the appropriate laws are enforced, and that you can secure any financial compensation you may be entitled to.
So how do you find a caring lawyer? A compassionate lawyer who is concerned for your safety and also knows the law inside and out? The first thing to do is ask around and get recommendations for a highly respected lawyer or law firm. This may seem difficult, because talking about a domestic violence situation is very personal and often painful, but it?s an important step towards getting help. Many domestic violence shelters, women?s organizations, or gender support organizations can recommend experienced attorneys for domestic violence cases. The next thing to do is consult several potential attorneys. Ask important questions about what they can do for you, how they?ll do it, and how they expect to be paid, but more importantly, try to discern whether or not they truly advocate for victims of domestic violence, or if they simply ?got assigned? your case. A caring lawyer will listen patiently, consider your feelings regarding everyone involved, and be there for you when needed.
A knowledgeable attorney will know whether civil or criminal charges are appropriate, how issues of child custody will be affected, and other variables relevant to your situation. No matter the details, though, keep in mind that only the victim can pursue change, whether it be legal action or otherwise. While it may be difficult to watch a loved one go through such situations, it is ultimately up to them to make the decision.