Articles Posted in Domestic Violence

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pexels-anna-shvets-4167544-200x300In the months and years since COVID-19 became a global health crisis, word has spread rapidly about the “shadow pandemic,”–referring to the worldwide spike in domestic violence (and violence against women in general) in the wake of the COVID pandemic. Many concerns were raised during the initial lockdowns and quarantines (and rightly so) that potentially millions of victims of domestic violence were “locked in” with their abusers and had even less access to relief services or the ability to obtain protective orders.

Now that there is enough data to be processed, the UN has released a comprehensive report entitled Measuring the Shadow Pandemic: Violence Against Women During COVID-19. Not only does it confirm that violence against women has increased substantially during COVID, but the numbers themselves are quite alarming in some cases. According to another report by the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, cases of domestic violence have increased by 25-33 percent worldwide. Let’s take a closer look at this “shadow pandemic” to see what we can learn.

An Overview of the Numbers

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Adult-Children-DV-300x200While the vast majority of domestic violence cases occur between spouses, domestic partners, or dating partners, there’s an often-overlooked version of domestic abuse that can be particularly harmful: when adult children become physically violent toward their parents. This type of domestic violence often falls into the category of “elder abuse” under California law, but it can also be classified as regular domestic violence, in part because the legal definition of “domestic violence” in California includes not just abuse between spouses and intimate partners, but also abuse between certain family members who live together. Let’s take a closer look at this troubling form of domestic violence to see what we can learn.

A Spike in Cases

According to research, approximately one million older adults are victims of domestic violence each year—and in about forty percent of those cases, the abuser is an adult child of the victim. During the recent quarantines of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, these numbers likely rose significantly as many grown children came home to shelter in place. One study estimates that incidents of abuse toward older people increased by as much as 84 percent during the pandemic–meaning that approximately 1 in 5 older people suffered some type of abuse during this time. Not all of these incidents were perpetrated by adult children, but if the normal percentage (40 percent) holds steady, it still amounts to a staggering number of adult children committing domestic violence against the parents who were attempting to shelter them.

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After-Two-Years-of-COVID-Are-Domestic-Violence-Rates-Still-Rising-200x300The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound and lasting impact on almost every aspect of our lives. While the initial lockdowns and response to the pandemic may have saved many lives, it’s been well-documented that domestic violence rates spiked significantly during the weeks and months of quarantines and lockdowns. The number of domestic violence 911 calls went up in many cities, but experts believe there were many more victims who never made a call. The reasons behind these increases ranged from increased financial pressure to depression to being forced to stay in close quarters with abusers.

But what about now? Two years into the pandemic, quarantines and even mask mandates have been lifted. Business as we know it is returning to normal, even as we continue to encounter spikes in infection rates. Now that we’re no longer stuck in close quarters and many/most of us are back to work…are domestic violence rates now dropping? Or are they still on the rise?

There is unfortunately no definitive answer. Most of the reports and studies available have been focused on the early days of the pandemic when the risk factors were highest, so current data is inconclusive at best. However, while the immediate quarantines are over, the long-term effects of the pandemic are still very much with us–as are the “ripple effects” it has had on so many other parts of our lives. Thus, it’s reasonable to assume that many households are still at elevated risk for domestic violence, and will likely continue to be so for some time to come. Let’s look at some of the likely contributing factors to this risk.

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DV-on-video-300x200In a day when video cameras are everywhere–including on our smartphones—it’s becoming more and more common for crimes to be “caught on tape.” But what if it happens to you? Perhaps you get into an argument with your significant other, and perhaps things get out of hand. Next thing you know, you’re under arrest, charged with domestic violence, and you’re told the entire event was captured on video. How should you respond? Does the video evidence ensure that you will be convicted of a crime? What can you do to make sure your rights are protected as you move through the legal process?

The inclusion of video evidence in a domestic violence case can dramatically change the dynamics of the case, as well as your defense strategy. Here’s what you need to know.

Is Video Evidence Admissible in Court?

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Cellphone-evidence-DV-200x300It’s no secret that technology has radically changed the way we live our lives over the past several decades. And while some may lament the loss of personal connection that comes with increased reliance on technology, there’s no doubt that it has improved certain aspects of our lives, including how domestic violence cases are processed. In the past, prosecutors and defense attorneys could only rely on eyewitness testimony to build a case—and sometimes, it was little more than the victim’s word against the accuser. But now, with the advent of instant and permanent communications like text messages, cell phone videos, and social media posts, evidence of the truth is often much easier to ascertain. This can work just as easily as evidence to prove accusations of domestic violence as it can to disprove them. Let’s take a closer look at how some of these technologies can be used as evidence in domestic violence cases.

Cell Phone Video

The power of user-generated phone video was never more proven than in the notorious murder of George Floyd by law enforcement officers in 2020. That murder, captured on video and released virally, kindled months of national protests under the Black Lives Matter movement and contributed greatly to the conviction of those responsible for his death.

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Lessons-About-Domestic-Violence-300x200The reality of domestic violence in our world—and more specifically, the process of moving on from domestic violence– as recently found its way back into the national conversation with a popular new TV series on Netflix, Maid. Based loosely on the memoir of domestic violence survivor Stephanie Land, Maid depicts a woman who must live in a shelter with her children and work as a housekeeper after leaving an abusive relationship. While the show focuses primarily on her recovery, the story of her abuse is told through a series of compelling flashbacks—and while the show itself is a fictionalized account, Land confirms that many of the details are accurate as far as what she went through and the living conditions she endured. The series is a window into certain aspects of the fallout of domestic violence that are rarely discussed–aspects that those who are accused of felony or misdemeanor domestic violence may learn from. Let’s explore some of the primary takeaways from the show.

Domestic violence survivors frequently encounter financial hardship. 

The financial aspect of leaving an abusive relationship is often overlooked, but statistics suggest that more than 94 percent of physically abusive relationships also involve some form of financial abuse. These difficulties are amplified if the abuser controls finances in the household, and survivors may not have access to money needed for basic necessities like food and clothing after leaving their partners. Survivors also need legal assistance when seeking restraining orders against abusers who find them at new locations or attempt contact with them through social media networks (something that abusers may do).

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Biggest-Domestic-Violence-Stories-of-the-2020s-Part-1-300x198In recent years, we’ve seen a lot of progress in the fight against domestic violence. From increased awareness to stronger legislation, stiffer penalties, and better services, there’s been a lot of positives to come out of it all. Unfortunately, though, the 2020s have so far shown us that America is still struggling with this issue right along with other nations and has yet to find an answer for how to completely eradicate it from society.

One in three women and one in four men have been the victim of physical violence by an intimate partner at least once in their lifetime–and most experts agree these numbers are underreported. For this reason, it’s important once in a while to review human stories and news articles to raise our awareness and learn. Let’s take a look at some of the more important and higher-profile domestic violence stories since the 2020s began.

News Coverage of Gabby Petito’s Death Raises Questions

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pexels-mikhail-nilov-8943099-300x200Being arrested and charged with domestic violence in California can wreak havoc on your life in many ways. You may have a protective order against you that forbids you from contact with your significant other and possibly your children. You may be forced from your home. You may have to change your daily habits and routines to avoid running into the person. You may face fines and jail time. But the repercussions can extend even beyond these complications—even as far as your career. As many licensed professionals have learned the hard way, a domestic violence conviction can ultimately result in having your professional license suspended or revoked.

Doctors are required to maintain an immaculate record of integrity for their patients’ safety. Lawyers have the duty to uphold justice for all parties involved in a legal proceeding without prejudice or bias. Nurses must provide care that is both competent and compassionate while maintaining confidentiality at all times. And so on. All of these professions, along with many others, require practitioners to maintain high ethical standards as well as demonstrate professionalism through their conduct at work–even off duty. Being charged with domestic violence puts all that integrity into question largely because it’s considered a “crime of moral turpitude”–that is a crime that involves dishonesty or intentional harm, and one that carries harsher penalties than other types of crimes.

If you are a licensed professional in California (e.g., doctor, lawyer, pharmacist, CPA, etc.), you need to be aware of the possible consequences a domestic violence conviction could have on your career. Let’s explore this issue in greater detail.

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international-domestic-violence-300x197While domestic violence continues to be a significant public health problem across the nation, the fact remains that the United States enjoys some of the strongest legal protections against domestic violence found anywhere on earth. With more than one billion women living in countries with no legal protections against DV, it’s evident there is still much work to be done to change mindsets and provide more protection across the globe. And yet, in recent years, the world has seen a remarkable amount of progress as more and more countries pass stricter laws and stronger penalties against domestic violence. Let’s take a snapshot of our world and look at this issue from an international perspective. Where are domestic violence protections strongest? Where are they nonexistent? How much progress is being made?

The Good News About Domestic Violence Protections Internationally

As recently as 2006, only 60 nations across the globe had passed laws prohibiting domestic violence; by 2011, the UN reported that that number had more than doubled, to 127 nations. The latest numbers show that 144 countries now have laws in place to protect domestic violence victims and punish the perpetrators. This data indicates a positive trend of new laws being passed with heightened awareness of the need to protect victims. The Washington Post reports that the continents of North America and Europe currently enjoy the strongest and most consistent legal protections available for domestic violence victims–and the United States is at or very near the top of the list. Other nations with similar laws against domestic violence include Chile, Columbia, New Zealand, South Africa, Austria, and the UK.

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Diet-and-DV-300x200Perhaps you’ve recently been arrested and charged with domestic violence. Maybe you’re even facing a protective order forbidding you to see your spouse or your kids. Maybe things just got out of control. Maybe it’s not the first time, and maybe you’re having trouble figuring out why. The key to avoiding a repeat of this situation is to identify any possible triggering factors and deal with them—including some things you might not have considered. 

Many people think that a person who commits domestic violence is an inherently violent person. This assumption is not just incorrect—it’s insidious because it suggests that violent tendencies are inborn or inbred and cannot be changed. The truth is not only can violent behaviors be learned and unlearned, but there may also be many contributing factors that make a person more predisposed to acting aggressively in their relationships–particularly towards people they actually care about. As it turns out, sometimes violent tendencies can be traced to the most seemingly inane aspects of our lives–even certain habits and behaviors we’ve adopted. Let’s explore some behaviors and habits that could have surprising links to an increased risk of domestic violence. 

Diet 

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