Domestic Violence Issues in NC Divorce and Family Law
- Help for Victims of Domestic Violence
- Use an Attorney and the Courts to Protect Yourself
- Criminal and Civil Actions against Your Abuser
- What is Domestic Violence?
- How to Prove the Extent of Your Abuse
- How to Describe Your Injuries to Law Enforcement
- Do Not Blame Yourself for the Abuse
- Don’t Stay Trapped in an Abusive Situation – There is Help!
- Defending Against False Allegations
Help for Victims of Domestic Violence in North Carolina
Victims of physical and emotional abuse are protected in North Carolina by specific Domestic Violence laws. If you are a victim of domestic violence, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your children. First, call the police or sheriff’s department if you are in immediate danger. Call 911 or go to the Emergency Room if you are injured.
If the danger is not imminent but you still feel you need help right away, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Their advocates are available 24/7 and the calls are confidential. They can connect you with domestic violence service providers in your county who are able to provide you with support, emergency response and safe shelter if you need it.
Use an Attorney and the Courts to Protect Yourself
After you have provided for your immediate safety, use the legal system to protect yourself. Call an experienced North Carolina family law and domestic violence attorney. Your attorney can help you obtain a Domestic Violence Protective Order to keep your abuser away from you. If your abuser violates the order, he or she will face the threat of arrest and jail.
Civil and Criminal Actions Against Your Abuser
Your abuser can face both civil and criminal actions which can be filed at the same time. If you have been assaulted or threatened, you can go to a local magistrate and take out a warrant against the offender.
You can file a civil lawsuit against your abuser to get assistance – in addition to the Domestic Violence Protective Order – such as temporary possession of your home or access to some other safe housing. Child custody and support can also be temporarily awarded to you. The Court can prohibit your abuser from possessing a firearm and order him or her to undergo a treatment program for abusers.
What is Domestic Violence?
In our state, domestic violence is covered by North Carolina General Statute 50-B. This statute covers current or former spouses; persons of the opposite sex who live or have lived together; persons who are related as parents and children; persons who have a child in common; persons who are current or former household members; and lastly, persons of the opposite sex who are or have been in a dating relationship.
This statute defines domestic violence as:
- attempting to cause bodily injury or intentionally causing bodily injury.
- placing the aggrieved party or a member of the aggrieved party’s family in fear of imminent serious bodily injury or continued harassment that rises to such a level as to inflict substantial emotional distress.
- committing any act as defined by N.C.G.S. 14-27.2 through N.C.G.S. 14-27.7.
These acts cover first degree rape, second degree rape, first degree sex offense, second degree sex offense, sexual battery, and statutory rape.
How to Prove the Extent of Your Abuse
If you have been beaten or threatened, call the police or sheriff’s department as soon as you can safely do so. Ask the officer to make a report and take pictures if you have injuries. Write down the officer’s name and badge number so you know who to call as a witness in a civil or criminal action.
When the officer arrives, give him or her any evidence you have of the abuse (such as torn or bloody clothing). Give the officer names and phone numbers of witnesses if there are any. If you have a protective order or other legal agreement or order (separation, divorce or custody), give the officer copies. If there have been prior incidents of domestic violence against you, be sure to give the officer the dates and describe those incidents so they will be included in the report.
The officer should take pictures of your injuries but you should always take your own pictures as well. While it doesn’t usually happen, there have been cases in which the pictures were lost or misplaced by law enforcement – and in domestic violence cases, pictures really are “worth a thousand words.”
Another reason to take your own pictures is that bruises do not always show up right away. Take pictures whenever marks or bruises appear. You can use them later in court as proof of the abuse. Get medical treatment for any physical injuries; medical records provide good evidence in any legal action.
How to Describe your Injuries to Law Enforcement
The term “domestic violence” is used to describe a category of abusive behaviors or crimes and is not – in and of itself – a specifically defined crime. So when you describe your abuse to a law enforcement officer, state what the specific abuse was. It can include crimes such as rape or other sexual abuse, assault or attempted assault, criminal trespass, spoken or written threats, stalking or harassing phone calls.
Do Not Blame Yourself for the Abuse
Many victims of domestic violence get caught up in a cycle of blaming themselves for the abuse because they believe they weren’t submissive enough or they said something to aggravate the abuser. When being interviewed by law enforcement, do not make statements taking responsibility for the assault or threats made by the abuser. Do not make excuses for the abuser. There is no excuse for abusive behavior.
Don’t Stay Trapped in an Abusive Situation – There is Help!
You do not have to allow someone to abuse you – or your children if you have them. North Carolina laws provide many protections from domestic violence. Contact an experienced North Carolina family law and domestic violence attorney who can advise you about the legal options available. You can free yourself from the fear of an abusive partner and legally protect yourself from injury.
Defending Against False Allegations
There are times when frivolous and false allegations are made in domestic violence complaints. If you are innocent of a domestic violence allegation made against you, take steps immediately to write a narrative of what happened. Also write down names and phone numbers of witnesses, if any. If you are innocent, you should never attempt to represent yourself in a domestic violence hearing in court. In North Carolina, it is illegal to knowingly make a false statement in procurement of a domestic violence order, so if you are unjustly accused, contact an attorney right away. It is important to seek out an attorney experienced in defending clients against false domestic violence charges.
Greenville NC Domestic Violence and Family Law Attorney Cynthia Mills
Your future will be determined by the legal action you take today! Insure that you take the right path and secure what matters most to you and your family. Let me help you through the uncertainty and emotional stress of your family legal crisis with skill, experience and dedicated representation. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 252-752-6161.