Safe Homes of Orange County

WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?

The information is adapted from the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (www.nyscadv.org) as well as the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (www.opdv.state.ny.us).

 

Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive behavior used to maintain power and control over an intimate partner.

 

Domestic violence has its roots in sexism and the historical oppression of women.

Intimate-partner violence occurs in families of all social, racial, economic, educational and religious backgrounds.  It is present in towns, suburbs, rural areas and neighborhoods.  While women with fewer economic resources may seek help more often or report domestic violence more frequently, it doesn’t mean that women in the upper and middle classes are less likely to be victimized.  Economic advantages can improve a woman's options and resources and facilitate access to readily-available private services--resulting in underreported violence. 

 

Myths and Misperception Versus Reality

 

--Myth: Alcohol and drug abuse cause intimate-partner violence.

 

Reality: Alcohol and drug abuse do not cause intimate-partner violence.  In the presence of alcohol and drug abuse, violence may increase or become more severe, and existent violent behavior may intensify.

 

Sixty-five percent of intimate-partner violence cases DO NOT involve drugs or alcohol.  Many batterers do not abuse alcohol or drugs, and many alcohol or drug abusers do not batter.  Chemical dependency treatment will not cure battering; the two problems need to be addressed separately.  The alcohol abuse rate for abused women is similar to that of the general female population, 7 to 14 percent.  Moreover, a woman's alcohol abuse does not justify being battered.

 

--Myth: Battered women are masochistic and crazy; they provoke and enjoy their abuse.

 

Reality: Women do not provoke or deserve battering.  They deserve a violence-free life.  As it happens with rape, an attempt is made to blame the victim for the behavior of the attacker.  Abusers commonly blame their battering on alcohol and drug abuse, minor frustrations, and/or the words or behavior of their partner.  However, the abuser's use of violence is the abuser's choice.  There are non-violent ways to deal with anger.


A battered woman's reactions to the violence are normal, given the circumstances, and the reactions are often necessary for survival.  She is not crazy.  She still hopes her partner will change, and indeed, he may show remorse and good times may follow.  However, over time, remorse and good times will decrease, while the abuse and violence escalate.

 

--Myth: Men who abuse women are mentally ill and not responsible for their actions.

 

Reality: Battering is a learned behavior from childhood experiences and from social messages condoning violence against women.  Psychological tests have repeatedly shown that men who abuse women do not differ from the "normal" male.  Lenore Walker's study* showed that batterers had learned as children that violence was an appropriate response to anger.  Abusers are not out of control; they are attempting to gain control over their partner through demands, threats, and physical abuse.  They deny and minimize the violence; they blame their partners for the violence.  The violent behaviors of abusers will continue as long as society refuses to treat intimate-partner violence as a serious crime and impose serious consequences.

 *www.dviworld.org

Are You In An Abusive Relationship?

Domestic violence can take many different forms.  It involves physical, emotional, mental, economical, and sexual abuse.  At first, the control and manipulation a partner uses can be very subtle.  The abuse can and will escalate over time.  Answer "yes" or "no" to the following questions:

 

  • Does your partner continually criticize what you wear, what you say, how you act and how you look?

  • Does your partner humiliate or make fun of you in public places and social situations?

  • Does your partner often call you insulting and degrading names?

  • Do you feel like you need to ask permission to go out and see your friends and family?

  • Do you turn down invitations to be with your friends and family because your partner will be angry at you for joining them?

  • Do you feel you need to apologize to people or make up excuses for your partner's behavior?

  • Do you feel like no matter what you do, everything is always your fault?

  • If you're late getting home, does your partner harass you about where you were and who you were with?

  • Has your partner threatened to hurt you or the children if you leave?

  • Does your partner force you to have sex whether you want to or not?

  • Are you afraid to say no to sex?

  • Have you been repeatedly accused of flirting or having sex with others?

  • Does your partner restrict you from getting a job or going to school?

  • Has your partner hit you or threatened to hit you?

  • Has your partner ever pushed, shoved, kicked or slapped you?

  • Do you ever explain away bruises, cuts, or other injuries as results of how "clumsy" you are?

  • Do you feel nervous or afraid for your safety when your partner becomes angry?

  • Are you afraid to disagree with your partner?

  • Are you frightened by your partner's violence towards other people or animals?

  • Do you change your behavior or "walk on eggshells," depending on your partner's mood?

  • Do you ever think "If only I was prettier", or "If only I cleaned the house better", or "If only I had kept the children quieter", etc., "then my partner wouldn't have been angry?"

If you answer "yes" to any of these questions, you may be a victim of abuse.

Courts and the Legal System 

Overview of the issue
The Legal System in New York State is divided into two areas: Civil Law and Criminal Law. Separate courts govern these two areas of law:

  • Civil Law handles cases where neither party is accused of having committed a crime. In a civil domestic violence action, you are asking for protection from your abuser, not punishment of your abuser.
  • The Criminal Law system deals with all cases involving violations of criminal law and requires pressing criminal charges against your abuser.

Orders of Protection: An order of protection is a civil order that provides protection from someone who you are married to, separated from, divorced from, have a child in common with, are/were in an intimate/dating relationship with (including same sex couples) or are related to by blood or marriage.

There are two basic types of Orders of Protections

  1. Refrain from” – the tells the respondent that they must refrain from alarming, harassing or annoying the petitioner;

  2. "Stay away  this adds a distance clause, i.e. 500 feet to the order.

For more information about obtaining Orders of Protection:

http://www.womenslaw.org/laws_state_type.php?id=561&state_code=NY

 

Call our 24-Hour Hotline for assistance 1-888-503-4673

or visit us at the Family Justice Center:  280 Broadway, Newburgh, NY


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