What comes to mind when most people envision domestic violence is physically battered spouse. She is the woman who lives in fear of her everyday life, blaming herself for the pain that she must endure, and who does not know how or is unable to get herself out of an awful situation. There are thousands of people around the country in this situation (both women and men), but there are also people in abusive situations in which actual physical violence is not occurring. The law states that even those who are not being actually physically abused may still be victims of domestic abuse.
Under Georgia law, “the term ‘family violence’ means the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between past or present spouses, persons who are parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons living or formerly living in the same household:
- Any felony; or
- Commission of offenses of battery, simple battery, simple assault, assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint, or criminal trespass.”
Thus, in situations where people have been intimate partners, have a child together, live together or have been married, domestic violence is not limited to actual physical abuse. This would include making threatening statements, holding a person against his or her will, damaging the home, making harassing phone calls, and making unwanted contact directly or indirectly with the victim. These examples are only some of what can constitute domestic abuse.
These types of harmful contact have been defined in family law courts as “domestic violence.” While they may not be violent acts in the way that most people typically think of the word, they can still give rise to legal consequences. Not only are criminal consequences possible for the offender, but there are also legal remedies such as temporary and permanent restraining orders, supervised visits, and restrictions on custody proceedings that may be ordered by the court even if the conduct was not directed toward or involved the children in question.
People should be educated in domestic violence to understand that this area is much broader than just physical violence. Parties going through domestic relations proceedings must proceed with caution and be aware of their emotions. Oftentimes, these are situations in which emotions run high and people are not always on their best behavior. One may be convinced that he or she must reach out to the other party in order “to get through,” or one may feel wronged and believe that only he or she can provide justice. Acting out on one’s emotions without a clear head can result in significant lifelong consequences for the actor and lifelong physical and/or emotional damage for the victim.
If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic violence, please contact the attorneys at Vayman & Teitelbaum. We will work with you to discuss what your legal options may be. Our attorneys will work to ensure that you and your family’s needs are met and that you are protected from harm.