Is It Domestic Violence?

Domestic ViolenceHow to Know If Behavior Rises to the Level of Domestic Violence
In any relationship, there will be disagreements. Voices can be raised and threatening words spoken. But what is domestic violence? When does a person’s behavior cross the line and become something for which they can be prosecuted?

Defining Domestic Violence

The term domestic violence is used in reference to a wide range of actions affecting a number of different types of relationships. While it’s customarily thought of as physical violence within a marriage or dating relationship (and most often perceived as violence by husbands against their wives), it actually applies to acts involving anyone cohabitating or in certain types of relationships. That includes parents, children and domestic partners. According to the National Coalition against Domestic Violence (NCADV), one of every three women and one of every four men will report domestic abuse by an intimate partner in their lifetimes. It’s found in same-sex relationships as well as heterosexual relationships.

What Type of Actions Constitute Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence can involve a broad range of actions, including:

  • Physical violence—Pushing, slapping, punching, kicking, striking with any object, pulling hair, pinching, throwing objects at. It also includes acts of sexual violence, from fondling and molestation to rape, as well as homicide. Limiting a domestic partner’s mobility through physical violence or threats of violence—i.e., keeping them from leaving the house—can also be a form of domestic violence.
  • Verbal abuse—Threats of violence, belittling, persistent accusations and blaming, name calling and verbal assaults can all qualify as domestic violence
  • Emotional abuse—Intimidation, manipulation, verbal abuse, constant criticism and persistent dissatisfaction are all characteristics of emotional abuse. Psychologists typically include three types of behavior in emotional abuse—aggression, denial and minimization
  • Economic abuse—Controlling a person’s economic resources or access to financial resources can also be considered domestic abuse. Often the intent of such an action is to ensure financial dependence on the abuser and limit the victim’s freedom and access to others.

Texas Domestic Violence Laws—An Overview

Texas law specifically defines domestic violence to include any assault against a family or household member, or against a current or former dating partner. The crime of domestic violence in Texas is one of intent—the party accused must have knowingly engaged in activity that caused bodily injury, threatened imminent bodily injury, or that the perpetrator knew or should have known that the victim would find offensive or provocative. Accordingly, it’s a legitimate defense in Texas that an act of violence was the result of carelessness or negligence, or that it was in self-defense.

Domestic violence in Texas may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, and can potentially result in a prison term of up to 99 years and fines totaling $10,000. Factors that can mitigate a sentence include whether or not there were prior incidents of domestic violence, the victim’s relationship with the perpetrator, and whether or not there was evidence of suffocation or strangulation.

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