What is Considered Domestic Violence?
“Domestic violence means the commission of one or more of the following acts upon an aggrieved party or upon a minor child residing with or in the custody of the aggrieved party by a person with whom the aggrieved party has or has had a personal relationship, but does not include acts of self-defense:
- attempting to cause bodily injury, or intentionally causing bodily injury
- placing the aggrieved party or a member of the aggrieved party’s family or household in fear of imminent serious bodily injury or continued harassment, as defined in S. 14-277.3A, that rises to such a level as to inflict substantial emotional distress
- committing any act defined in S. 14-27.21 through G.S. 14-27.33.”
The above is a definition provided by North Carolina’s legislation. For all intents and purposes, it seems rather cut and dry, but what does all of that legal jargon mean? Who is protected under this definition? And if you find yourself or an acquaintance is the victim of domestic violence, what are your options?
What defines a “personal relationship?”
In the statute, acts of violence are defined broadly enough so as to cover any number of offenses – actual injury, threats, harassment, etc. – but the term “personal relationship” can seem fairly vague and inconclusive in this context. But, it is actually broken down to mean several types of situations, and here is the basic idea of what qualifies in the instance of the law:
- Current and former spouses
- Members of the opposite sex that live or have lived together
- Parent-child or grandparent-grandchild households
- Co-parenting couples
- Current or former household members
- Members of the opposite sex who are dating one another
What Can You Do?
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, there are resources to assist you; these include the state’s Address Confidentiality Program – which prevents an abuser from discovering your new address when you leave an intolerable situation and register yourself and any dependents – as well as your local police, and legal recourse in the form of a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO).
With the DPVO, your abuser would no longer have any right to come within a specified distance of your person, nor stay in the housing you share if such is the case. If you chose to remove yourself, your abuser may even be subjected to the financial responsibility of your new residence. DVPOs also set restrictions on any custody of dependents, can mandate child/spousal support, or even dictate required therapy sessions for your abuser to acknowledge and begin to rectify behavioral issues that led to the abuse.
Even though it is possible to seek assistance and even file these types of restrictive orders on your own, we recommend having an experienced, local lawyer like Brett Wentz on your side to help guide you through the process and alleviate some of the stress that comes with taking action. To learn more about filing a protective order, or any other legal options to combat perpetrators of domestic violence, contact Wentz Law Firm – we’ll always act in your best interest and protect your rights.