It seems we all know of someone who has hidden behind a smile, presenting the perfect facade of happiness all the while experiencing domestic violence behind closed doors. While men often take the blame for being “wife beaters” statistically speaking men are very likely to be victimized as well, although they tend to massively underreport for a variety of social and cultural reasons. How can such crimes be prevented? It is crucial to be aware of what constitutes domestic violence, as well as what is covered under federal laws regarding domestic violence.
Who Qualifies as an Intimate Partner
This can include a spouse, former spouse, partner who cohabitates, dating relationship, or former partner with whom a child is shared. Children can also be victims of domestic violence.
What Qualifies as Domestic Violence
Domestic violence includes a long range of negative and harmful behaviors which include, physical abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, economic abuse, verbal abuse, threats, stalking, and cyberstalking.
What to Do If You Find Yourself in a Domestic Violence Situation
Always immediately seek help from local authorities when experiencing a violent situation. There are many shelters and programs to help those who are being battered. Organizations such as Your Safe Haven can be excellent resources to help place battered women and children in safe places and help them obtain Protection from Abuse Orders or Restraining Orders. A trusted attorney can help in situations of custody, to ensure children remain distanced from the abusing parent. The District Attorney’s office can be a great resource when cases have violated federal law and need to be referred for federal prosecution to the US Attorney’s office.
What Are Federal Laws Regarding Domestic Violence
It is imperative to understand that if you have been in any violent situation defined above, you are a victim of a crime. While the local and state governments are largely responsible for dealing with these crimes, at times there is too great an influx of crimes for the local criminal justice system to handle. Thus, in 1994 the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was passed and is used to enforce that it is illegal to cross or enter state lines to injure, stalk, or harasses an intimate partner. A violation of an active PFA order is also a federal offense. Furthermore, in ’94 and ’96 the Gun Control Act was passed dictating that in certain situations it is a federal crime for violent offenders to possess guns. These laws simply reinforce the laws within each state. Domestic violence is always a crime and never acceptable.