A videotape showing former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his fiancée in a hotel elevator has focused attention on the issue of domestic violence. In a development closer to home, the Dallas Morning News recently reported that, this October, Dallas County will begin implementation of a plan to confiscate firearms from certain domestic abusers. The guns will be stored at a local gun range. The program is the result of public concern following a report that law enforcement has systematically not enforced laws restricting firearms from convicted abusers and those subject to protective orders. Statistics reveal that most domestic violence homicides are committed with guns.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence defines domestic violence as the deliberate intimidation, physical assault, battery or other abusive behavior perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. Over one million women are estimated to be domestic violence victims each year. Statistics show that females who are 20 to 24 years of age are at the greatest risk of intimate partner violence.
Domestic violence can affect people from all socioeconomic, educational and religious backgrounds. Abuse can take place in same-sex and heterosexual relationships. Children can be significantly impacted by domestic violence even if they do not personally experience it themselves. According to the American Psychological Association, children from homes plagued by violence are considered to be at-risk for anxiety and depression.
According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, controlling behavior on the part of a husband may be a first sign that a woman is in a potentially abusive situation. For example, a husband may prevent his wife from seeing friends or family on a regular basis in an attempt to socially isolate her. Physical or verbal assaults, coupled with increasing social isolation, thereafter strengthen the abusive partner’s control.
The American Psychiatric Association notes that, in addition to physical injury, domestic violence can cause emotional problems such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks and even post-traumatic stress disorder. Substance abuse by a victim could easily be triggered by being subjected to domestic violence.
Domestic violence remains a significant problem in Dallas and across Texas. According to The Family Place, 38 percent of Texas women have experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime. In 2013, the Dallas Police Department received over 13,000 domestic violence calls resulting in almost 6,000 arrests.
Ending the abuse
According to Greg Abbott, the Texas Attorney General, domestic violence victims are “entitled to the maximum protection permitted by law.” Accordingly, if a Texas court finds that family violence has occurred and is likely to occur again, a court is required to render a protective order prohibiting the abuser from committing or threatening additional acts of violence. To obtain a protective order, the victim and the offender must be: (1) related by marriage or blood, (2) living together (or previously having lived together) or (3) have a child together. A violation of the protective order can result in the arrest of the offender by police.
If you are the victim of domestic violence, you should contact a Texas family law attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can advise you on what steps you can take in order to keep yourself and other family members safe from an abuser. If necessary, an attorney can act quickly to procure a protective order to keep you or your children safe.