Signs of Domestic Violence
The hallmark signals of domestic violence or domestic abuse are violence, aggression, or controlling behavior toward current or former intimate partners or adult household members. Although women are more frequently victims of abuse, domestic violence and abuse are genderless problems, affecting both women and men in opposite-sex and same-sex relationships. Spousal abuse is just one form of domestic abuse. Elderly victims may experience domestic abuse from adult children or other household members. Child abuse is legally distinct from adult domestic abuse but often occurs within the same home. Children can be direct victims of abuse or can suffer psychological harm from observing adult abuse.
Domestic violence is prohibited by state and federal law. In New Jersey, domestic violence is specifically defined in the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, N.J.S.A.2C:25-17 et seq. (NJPDVA). A violation of the NJPDVA is grounds for a temporary restraining order (TRO) as well as grounds for a separate criminal complaint. Through the TRO process, a victim can obtain wide-ranging relief, including temporary orders for financial support and child custody.
Signs of domestic abuse often appear before behavior crosses the line into criminal acts. Where one sign of abuse is present, other signs are usually present as well. Without professional help, patterns of controlling behavior rarely improve and may worsen over time. Any signs of domestic abuse must be addressed to protect the victim’s personal safety and mental health. If you see any of the following behavior in a partner, former partner, or any adult household member, do not minimize the problem, get help now:
- Anger issues. A volatile and unpredictable temper, a tendency to scream or throw things when upset.
- Controlling or jealous behavior. Excessive jealously or possessiveness, limiting a victim’s activities outside the home or contacts with friends and family, monitoring or restricting phone or computer use.
- Economic or financial abuse. Restricting a victim’s financial independence by limiting access to finances, abusing credit, or stealing a victim’s financial identity.
- Emotional or psychological abuse. Criticizing, name calling, swearing, or threatening to hurt or kill a victim or someone close to the victim.
- Sexual abuse. Physically forcing or coercing a current or former partner to engage in sex or intimate physical contact.
- Physical violence. Hitting, slapping, pushing or physically hurting a victim in any way.
- Destruction of property. Destroying or tampering with a victim’s belongings.
- Animal abuse. Abusing household pets in an effort to gain emotional or psychological control over the pet owner or another adult close to the pet.
- Child abuse. Harming or threatening to harm children in an effort to gain emotional or psychological control over the child’s parent or another adult close to the child.
Effects of Stress and Alcohol Abuse on Domestic Violence
A family crisis, a job loss, a struggle with substance abuse—all of these things, as well as many other stressful circumstances, can worsen a cycle of domestic abuse. Alcohol abuse is especially notorious for its contribution to domestic violence. Find out about stress, alcohol and domestic violence.
Battered Woman’s Syndrome
Battered Woman’s Syndrome is a mental disorder recognized by professionals as a subtype of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is also a legal defense that can extend the time available for someone suffering from the syndrome to obtain relief for domestic violence in court. Get more information on Battered Woman Syndrome.
Making a Safety Plan
The most effective plan of action in a situation involving domestic abuse depends on the facts. If you are in immediate danger, call 911 or go to the nearest police station. If you have children, take them with you. If you are not in immediate danger, follow our tips and consult with these resources to make an effective safety plan. If you are afraid of your partner, former partner, or other household member for any reason, or if your confidence and self-esteem has suffered in the relationship, these are signs that you need help. Create your own domestic violence safety plan.
Helping Someone Else Get Help
Family members and friends of those suffering domestic abuse are often confused about the best way to help. They may have trouble understanding why a victim does not take action. Impediments to action are common and one of the best ways to help a victim is by recognizing the existence of these impediments and providing information and support to help the victim overcome them. Find out about helping a domestic violence victim get help.
If you have questions about signs of domestic violence or abuse in your own relationship or in the relationship of someone close to you, one of our experienced attorneys can help you protect your loved one. Contact us for a free confidential consultation. Please call: 888-888-0919.