Are you being abused by your spouse, the one person who you’re supposed to be able to trust and feel safe around? Is your spouse physically abusing your children, harming your pets or terrorizing your family? If your children aren’t being abused, is your spouse abusing youin front of them? After all, this is another form of abuse. No child should witness abuse or be victims of abuse. Children deserve to live in safe, loving homes, free of violence and threats of bodily injury.
“What is domestic violence exactly?” According to the California Courts, domestic violence is “abuse or threats of abuse when the person being abused and the abuser are or have been in an intimate relationship (married or domestic partners, are dating or used to date, live or lived together, or have a child together).” It’s also when the abuser and the victim are closely related through marriage or blood. This can include parents and children, siblings, stepparents and stepchildren, adoptive parents and adoptive children, and such.
What does domestic violence involve?
- Sexual assault
- Making threats
- Hitting someone
- Disturbing a person’s peace
- Physical abuse (intentional or reckless)
- Threatening to harm someone
- Promising to hurt someone
- Destroying someone’s personal property
Physical abuse does not have to be just hitting or kicking. It can be shoving, pushing, pulling the victim’s hair, scaring the victim, following the victim, throwing things, or keeping someone from coming or going places freely. It can also include abusing the family pets.
However, domestic violence does not have to involve spousal abuse or child abuse and this is something that a lot of people don’t realize. It can be verbal abuse or psychological abuse. You don’t have to be physically hit to be a victim of domestic violence. Abuse typically takes different forms. Abusers will use various tactics to control their victims. They may intimidate their victims, call them names, threaten to hurt them, control their movements, cut them off financially, tell them how to act, where they can and cannot go, etc.
Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
If you or your children are being abused by your spouse, it’s time to seriously consider a domestic violence restraining order. If you say nothing and do nothing, you’ll have zero proof of the abuse, unless a concerned neighbor or citizen calls 911, but you can’t wait for that to happen. Too often, people “mind their own business” and don’t call the authorities when they hear a domestic dispute.
The best way to protect yourself and your family is to ask the court for a domestic violence restraining order. Domestic violence restraining orders are court orders that protect families from abuse at the hands of a husband or wife, a mother or father who is being abusive. Can you ask the court for a domestic violence restraining order? You can ask the court if the following is true:
The person in question has abused you or they have threatened to abuse you and you are closely related to the person, and you:
- Are married to this person,
- Are their registered domestic partner,
- Are dating him or her,
- Used to date him or her,
- Live together,
- Used to live together, or
- Are closely related to them; for example, you’re the person’s child, parent, sibling, grandparent, or in-law.
“What if my spouse is abusing our children, but they haven’t laid a finger on me? What can I do to protect my children?” If your husband or wife is abusing your children, you can ask the court for a restraining order on behalf of your abused children. If your child is at least 12 years-old, he or she can file for their own restraining order.
What Can a Restraining Order Do?
If you are married to an abusive spouse, a restraining order can have very powerful effects, especially if you’re planning a divorce and have children together. A restraining order can order an abusive spouse to:
- Not contact their victims,
- Not go near the children’s school,
- Not go near other relatives,
- Move out of the family home,
- Follow the court’s child custody or visitation orders,
- Pay spousal support,
- Pay child support,
- Stay away from the family pets,
- Transfer the rights to their cellphone number to the person protected in the restraining order,
- Pay certain bills, such as the mortgage and auto loan,
- Not change any life or health insurance policies,
- Not run up credit card debt or take out any loans, and
- Successfully attend and complete a 52-week batterer intervention program.
Restraining orders can’t do everything. They cannot end a bad marriage. They are not divorces. They also cannot establish paternity. For the restrained person however, restraining orderscanstop the abuser from going certain places and doing certain things.
The restrained person can be forbidden from visiting their children’s school and going near their spouse’s work or school. He or she can be ordered to move out of their home. It can affect the person’s ability to see their children for some time, and restrained people cannot own a firearm while the restraining order is in force.
A restraining order can certainly affect a person’s immigration status. If for example, the restrained person is a Green Card holder and they are convicted of domestic violence, the conviction can trigger removal proceedings because spousal abuse and child abuse are both “deportable offenses” under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Related: How Does Domestic Violence Affect Child Custody?
If the restrained person violates the restraining order, he or she can be arrested and sent to jail. They can also be fined and convicted of a crime for violating the restraining order.