Domestic violence is an awful daily reality for far too many across all demographics in the US. Unfortunately, the Texas Council on Family Violence estimates that 1 in 3 Texans will be a victim of domestic violence at some point during their lifetime. With something this widespread, it can never hurt to be more informed. To that end, we’ve put together a list of eight things you should know about domestic violence and orders of protection.
#1: What exactly is domestic violence?
This one may seem obvious, but the definition may be broader than you think. The dictionary definition of domestic violence is as follows: “violent or aggressive behavior within the home, typically involving the abuse of a spouse or partner”. An expanded definition files child abuse, physical harm, and controlling, coercive, or threatening behavior under domestic abuse.
Anyone can be an offender or victim. The abuse can occur in any type of couple, whether they’re dating, married or unmarried, gay or straight, living together or not.
#2: What are orders of protection?
In Texas, an order of protection, also called a protective order, is a court order to keep an abuser away from their victim. There are different kinds of protective orders for different kinds of domestic violence such as domestic abuse, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, as well as for human trafficking.
A protective order orders an abuser:
- Not to hurt, threaten, or harass the victim or victims either directly or through another person,
- To stay away from the victim or victims’ home, workplace, and school or daycare in the case of an order protecting a child, and
- Not to carry a gun, even with a license.
#3: How do I get a protective order?
There are several different ways to apply for a protective order in Texas. You can:
- Contact your local county or district attorney’s office,
- Contact your local family violence shelter,
- Contact your local legal aid office,
- Hire a private attorney, or
- Complete the DIY protective order kit available on texaslawhelp.org. However, trying to get a protective order on your own should only be a last resort. It is much better to seek help if you can.
#4: What do I have to show to get a protective order?
This depends on what type of protective order you need. For a family violence protective order, for example, you need to be able to demonstrate that violence has occurred and is likely to continue in the future. For protective orders for stalking, sexual assault, and human trafficking, you have to be able to show that the abuser committed stalking, sexual assault, or human trafficking.
If you are experiencing abuse, it’s wise to collect any evidence you can. This can mean photographing injuries and saving any threatening communications such as voicemails, texts, and emails.
#5: How does domestic violence affect children?
Children do not need to be the immediate recipients of family violence to feel its effects. In fact, according to the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence, boys who witness it are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and/or children when they grow up and start their own families.
#6: Is there any correlation between homelessness and domestic violence?
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (the ACLU), there is. In 2014, the ACLU found that roughly half of all women and children in the United States are fleeing domestic violence.
#7: Who experiences the most domestic violence?
While it takes many forms, and anyone can be a victim, the Bureau of Justice Statistics stated in their crime data brief from 1993-2001 that 85% of all domestic violence victims were women. One-quarter of women around the world will experience dating or domestic violence in their lifetime, and women are most at risk of being victimized between the ages of 20 and 24.
#8: What is the cost of domestic violence?
First and foremost, the cost of family violence is physical and mental trauma. The financial costs are high as well. According to SafeHorizon, the costs of domestic violence in the US amount to more than $37 billion a year. This price tag includes law enforcement involvement, legal work, mental health and medical treatment, and lost productivity at work.
If you find yourself experiencing domestic violence, know that you aren’t alone. Your situation may be extremely difficult, and the process of obtaining a protective order may seem complicated, but there is ample information available that can make your path forward a little bit easier. An experienced family law attorney like Carrie Marquis can also be a huge help. Finally, know that support is only a call or a text away. You can call the National Domestic Violence hotline, based in Austin, Texas, at 1-800-799-7233. Or, if you are unable to speak freely, you can log on to thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474.