Why do you need to understand the different types of domestic abuse? It is because you might be involved and charged with domestic violence without knowing how to get out of it or why you are in such a situation. Also, it can help you understand the charges and build a strong defense against them. Read on to learn more about the types of abuse commonly encountered in domestic violence cases.
Understanding Domestic Abuse Laws in California
According to the California Penal Code 13700, "domestic violence" is abuse against an intimate partner. Abuse is when a person uses or threatens to use physical force on a close partner, whether on purpose or by accident.
The "intimate partner" could be:
- A spouse (present or previous);
- A registered domestic partner (whether present or former);
- A fiance (either present or past);
- A romantic live-in partner (a "cohabitant," present or previous); or
- A person with whom the accused has or has had a child, or someone with whom the accused is dating seriously or was dating.
Different Forms of Domestic Abuse
When people hear "domestic violence," one of the first things that come to mind is physical abuse. Physical abuse is a little bit easier to spot than emotional abuse because it is harder to hide and often more apparent. Physical violence happens when it's clear that a person's actions mean to make the victim helpless and to gain power in the relationship. Research shows men usually commit most of this kind of violence, and when women do this kind of violence, it is usually to protect themselves from a violent male partner.
Some examples of physical abuse are as follows:
- When you push, kick, slap, punch, or scratch someone;
- Ripping or pulling hair out;
- Spit at or close to the partner;
- Throwing things at or close to the partner;
- Putting someone through reckless driving;
- Using household objects as weapons;
- Using weapons as a threat to a partner;
- Rough play that both parties didn't agree upon (i.e., martial arts, MMA, self-defense techniques);
- Abuse that causes cuts, broken bones, internal injuries, or a loss of pregnancy;
- Abuse that causes scarring or a disability; and
Verbal abuse is hard to spot; unfortunately, it can be a common form of abuse in some relationships. Verbal abusers are masters of manipulation. They can hurt your self-esteem while making it look like they care about you. Using words to hurt someone is a very sneaky way to control them. No matter how loving your partner seems, verbal abuse is crafty and can hurt just as much as physical abuse. Common signs of verbal abuse include the following:
- Swearing and constant humiliation, whether in public or private affairs;
- Attacks on a person's intelligence, sexuality, body image, and ability to be a parent or partner;
- Making fun of a person's religion or ethnicity; and
- Yelling, screaming, calling names, and putting people down.
Sexual abuse is a complex part of domestic violence to talk about and sometimes to spot. Women can experience sexual abuse, and many have trouble recognizing that sexual abuse is abuse. To gain control, abusers use sexual violence for the same reason they use physical violence.
Some examples of sexual abuse are as follows:
- Sabotaging birth control;
- Reproductive coercion;
- Using a sexually offensive name;
- Forcing a partner to take off their clothes;
- Making a partner work as a prostitute or sex worker against their will;
- Saying that a partner is unfaithful;
- Forcing a partner to watch pornographic movies or have sex with other people;
- Putting the partner through unwelcome touches;
- Forcing a partner to take part in any sexual activity they don't want to do;
- Using objects to bite, pinch, or hurt a partner during sex; and
- Sexual assault.
Emotional abuse is harder to measure because it isn't something you can see or touch. But it can be seen in the words and actions someone uses to insult, embarrass, or hurt someone else's sense of self-worth.
This kind of abuse hurts a person's emotional and mental health. Abuse can come in many forms. For example, a person who hurts someone may lie or do things that aren't true to confuse the person, also known as gaslighting.
Emotional violence can include direct threats of physical harm to victims or their loved ones. Abusers may even threaten to hurt themselves to get their victims to do what they want.
Some examples of emotional abuse are as follows:
- Blaming for all relationship problems on the victim;
- Comparing the victim to others always hurts their self-esteem and sense of worth;
- Sporadic sulking;
- Withdrawal of interest (for example, weeks of silent treatment); and
- Emotional blackmail and threats of suicide.
Even though psychological abuse doesn't leave bruises or broken bones, it can cause severe emotional and mental health problems. It can be hard to spot this kind of abuse, but it's essential to do so and get help as soon as possible.
Here are some signs of emotional and psychological abuse:
- Being upset or upset-looking;
- Being quiet and not responding;
- Trying to stay away from certain people or being afraid, nervous, or shy around them; and
- She was acting strangely, like rocking, biting, or sucking.
There are also less obvious signs, such as the following:
- Calling off plans at the last minute;
- Trying to explain away a partner's hurtful words or actions;
- Being more silent in the partner's presence;
- Trying to say sorry too much;
- Feeling more uncertain and unsure of themselves;
- Always being in a hurry; and
- Checking the phone all the time/partner is constantly checking in.
Financial Abuse or Economic Abuse
Financial abuse is a type of domestic violence that many people don't know about but is very common. It happens when one partner controls the other's financial freedom and independence.
Here are some examples of financial abuse:
- Having every bank account in the name of the abusive partner;
- Keeping track of when, where, and how money is spent;
- Putting a budget in place (often the very small or unrealistic cost of living);
- Keeping a partner from working outside the home or giving any money to the family;
- Having control over all or most of the funds;
- Using a partner's name for money-related purposes; and
- Forcing a partner to sign important documents like taxes, immigration papers, or other vital papers against their will.
Child abuse is when a child under 18 is hurt or mistreated on purpose. There are many ways to hurt a child, and they often happen simultaneously. Child abuse is often done by someone the child knows and trusts, usually a parent or another family member.
When a child gets abused, they might feel guilty, ashamed, or confused. The child may be afraid to tell anyone about the abuse, especially if the abuser is a parent, another relative, or a family friend. So, it's essential to keep an eye out for red flags, such as:
- Getting away from friends or other everyday things; C
- Changes in behavior, like aggression, anger, hostility, hyperactivity, or how well a child does in school;
- Depression, anxiety, unusual fears, or a sudden loss of self-confidence;
- Sleep problems and nightmares;
- There didn't seem to be any supervision;
- School absences that happen often;
- Acts of defiance or disobedience; and
- Self-harm or trying to kill oneself.
Legal Penalties of Domestic Abuse in California
If you get convicted of domestic abuse, the punishments will generally be less harsh for misdemeanors and more severe for felonies. In any scenario, you can expect some or all of the following:
- Prison time. You can typically expect up to one year in jail for a misdemeanor conviction, and for a felony conviction, you can expect up to four years. State law permits some defendants to receive probation instead of jail time if the injuries were minor and it was their first offense.
- Fines and compensation. Penalties range from $2,000 to $10,000 per offense, depending on the offense's circumstances and nature. In addition, the court will likely order you to give the victim reparations for medical expenses, mental health therapy, and lost wages.
- You can lose custody of your kids. You may have visitation privileges, but you will likely lose custody rights if convicted of domestic abuse.
- You may lose firearm rights. In California, misdemeanor and felony convictions for domestic violence result in the loss of the right to own a handgun – typically a 10-year ban for misdemeanor convictions and a lifetime prohibition for felony convictions.
- Batterer's program. You may likely be forced by law to participate in a one-year treatment/counseling program for perpetrators of domestic abuse.
- Deportation or inadmissibility. Domestic violence convictions in California may result in the cancellation of a person's legal immigration status, leading to deportation and a prohibition on reentry into the United States.
There's a lot at stake if you're accused of domestic abuse, whether you're guilty or not. It would be best if you didn't face these charges without a lawyer. At Hurwitz Law Group, our experienced domestic violence attorney can investigate the charges and assist you in avoiding harsh fines.
Start Your Free and Confidential Consultation Today
Dealing with domestic abuse is a traumatic experience, and dealing with the criminal justice system can be overwhelming. You need an aggressive team of legal professionals who will conduct a thorough investigation, collect evidence, and fight for your rights.
Hurwitz Law Group can help you fight domestic violence charges. Protect yourself, your rights, and your future; contact us at (323) 287-9849 or fill out our online form to schedule your free, confidential consultation.