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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

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Domestic violence affects millions across the world. Bringing awareness to the issue is one the main ways to defeat this terrible problem. That’s why October has been declared Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence includes beating, threatening, sexual assault, or other harm to another person. Angry words can lead to a push or slap, then escalate to other forms of physical, psychological, or emotional abuse. The following charges are also related to domestic violence:

  • Child endangerment
  • Child abuse
  • Physical injury to a spouse or co-habitant
  • Temporary or permanent restraining order
  • Restraining order violations

Common Cliches About Domestic Violence

Despite the usual images of domestic violence society has, anybody can be a domestic violence victim. It doesn’t matter what sex, age, culture, race, education, religion, employment, or marital status they have. While women are the usual victims, men can fall prey to domestic violence as well. Women may be suspicious of strangers, but it’s usually those closest to them, such as a lover, husband, boyfriend, or other family member, who is the mostly likely person to victimize them.

It is estimated that one out of every four women will experience some form of domestic violence during her lifetime. In the United States the leading cause of injury to women between 15 and 44 is domestic violence. This is more than muggings, rapes, and car accidents combine. It is estimated that every 15 seconds in the United States a woman becomes a victim of domestic violence at the hands or her husband or partner. Approximately three to four million women in the U.S. are beaten by husbands or ex-husbands or male lovers each year in their homes.

A critical change happens when women try to leave their relationships because of some level of abuse. Frequently upon leaving the relationships they end up living in poverty. It’s a difficult choice but better than living with domestic violence. In spite of the dangers of domestic violence, there are a number of cultural and social factors that try to encourage women to stay in abusive relationship to try and make things work. It’s difficult when the violence is a long-standing pattern for both the woman and her partner.

Men who abuse their wives or girl friends frequently says it’s because their wives or girl friends are terribly inadequate. “She’s too lazy and doesn’t do what I tell her!” It is evident these abusive men are dependent on their partners. Some factors that leads such men to violence includes emotional withdrawal, fear of rejection, and/or abandonment. Similar to women who are incapable of leaving abusive relationships, men who batter their wives and children also tend to be psychologically incapable of leaving such a relationship.

While women are usually thought of as being victims of domestic violence, men are often victims more than most people realize. While men tend to be physically stronger, it doesn’t mean they can always escape domestic violence in the relationships they have. Unlike women, a man who is abused doesn’t have the resources women do, must face skepticism by police, and encounter major legal obstacles, especially involving trying to gain custody of their children having an abusive mother.

Male victims of domestic violence has to deal with issues their female victims don’t have to. Both genders are hesitant to report domestic abuse because of embarrassment, or the fear of making the situation worse. In addition to embarrassment, male victims have to deal with identity issues of being a man. This is due to the fact they they’re afraid their family and friends will consider them weak if they find out they’re “let” their female partner abuse them. According to a report from the ManKind Initiative, which campaigns for male victims of abuse, statistics show that 38% of domestic abuse victims are actually male.

Domestic Violence Laws in California

California’s Domestic Violence Laws have been, originated in 2000, have been referred to as a patchwork of statues trying to help victims of domestic violence. However, these laws don’t address some of the biggest obstacles faced by victims, even though they make an honest attempt to prevent domestic violence in family and intimate relationship situations.

The state identifies the beginning of domestic violence as the time an individual commits a criminal act according to the relationship type specified in the California Penal Code. These relationships are classified as a spouse or ex-spouse; current or former cohabitant in the home; a parent the individual has had a child with; or a partner in a dating relationship. For most situations of domestic violence, these are adequate classifications.

The California Penal Code Section 273.5 criminalizes domestic violence. According to the code it’s a crime if the conduct of an individual willful leads to a “corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition” suffered by another person the individual has a familial or intimate relationship with specified in California’s domestic violence laws.

Since the Penal Code criminalizes battery in familial or intimate relationships, prosecutors can decide to charge defendants with battery under Penal Code Section 243(d) if the defendant “inflicted serious bodily injury” on the victim. Under this section, battery is a greater degree of harm the victim suffered due to domestic violence.

Domestic violence and child abuse frequently go hand-in-hand. To address this, prosecutors may also charge a defendant of domestic violence under various other applicable sections of the Penal Code. Based on the crime’s severity and harm to the victim, as well as other circumstances in the case, a prosecutor decides what criminal charges to pursue.

California Penal Code Section 836 has mandates for arrest for when defendant violate restraining orders. This section recognizes the potential consequences dealing with violations of restraining orders as well as the casual treatment police often give these violations. Now California police are required to arrest offenders who violate restraining orders in domestic violence cases. Unfortunately there is no requirement in the legislation for a district attorney to then prosecute these cases of restraining order violations the police sends to them.

The Role Prosecutors Play in Cases of Domestic Violence

Over the years legislators have been given opportunities to address certain aspects, they still have not address crimes such as domestic violence, rape, and child abuse. The district attorney has absolute power to refuse to file charges even if there is solid the evidence for the charge. When this occurs, the victims have no legal remedy. This unrestricted prosecutorial discretion was shown in Sonoma County which has the lowest conviction rate in the state, and cases for violence against women and children tend to be systematically undercharged.

Even though California does a fair job overall when it comes to enforcing domestic violence cases, there is considerable work still to be done in order to make the laws for domestic violence effective when in order to protect victims and their children.

Recommendations by the American Bar Association (ABA) is to make legal assistance more accessible and affordable for domestic violence victims and their children by encouraging pro bono work by lawyers in domestic violence cases, increasing legal services and programs that represent parents and children in domestic violence cases, establish legal clinics specializing in domestic violence, and requiring the abusers in domestic violence cases to pay the court costs and attorney’s fees. It is also recommended that judges and law enforcement personnel receive better education and training.

If you are a victim of domestic violence you need the expert advice and support of a domestic violence attorney such as Sevens Legal, APC. Contact Sevens Legal, APC, today for a free consultation.

Sevens Legal, APC
Criminal Defense Attorneys
3555 4th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92103
Phone: (619) 297-2800

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If you or loved ones is accused or charged with any type of crime call us. Let us support and help you during this tough time. Our firm award winning attorneys provides hope and peace of mind. The Sevens Legal, APC office is located in both San Diego and Escondido. We have time and time again helped Southern California residents get their cases dismissed or penalties reduced.

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