Image Wrap

Animal-cruelty-and-connection-to-DV-300x200There’s a technique frequently used in Hollywood during character introductions in movies and TV shows to subtly inform the audience as to whether that character is a “good guy” or a villain: depict how they act around animals. If the character is shown being kind and loving to their pet, we trust and empathize with them; if the character is mean to animals, we know not to trust them. One of the most poignant examples is in the opening scene of the Netflix series House of Cards, during which Frank Underwood rushes to the aid of a dog that has just been struck by a car, and, while talking directly to the camera, calmly chokes the dog to death. (Not pictured, of course.) We immediately know from this scene that we’re looking at an extremely dangerous man.

This storytelling technique works because we instinctively understand that there is a connection between how someone treats animals and how they will treat humans. As it turns out, it’s more than just a feeling. Numerous studies have indeed confirmed a link between cruelty to animals and domestic violence. In one study of women in abusive relationships who had pets, 89 percent of them reported their violent partner harmed or killed their pet, as well. In another, 88 percent of homes where child abuse was being investigated also showed signs of animal abuse. A third study concluded that people who are cruel to animals are five times more likely to harm other humans.

In short, many authorities and domestic violence advocates now confidently state that if someone is abusive toward animals, it’s an indicator that they either have been or will be prone to committing acts of domestic violence. Let’s explore this connection in a bit more detail to see what we can learn.

Arrested-After-Retaliating_against-DV-Abuser-300x225It seems like the epitome of cruel irony. You’ve been a victim of domestic violence by your partner for a while—perhaps even for years. Perhaps you’ve even reported it from time to time, but the problem persists. Finally…you’ve had enough. In a moment of stress, you “snap” and fight back against your abuser—only to find that now, thanks to California’s strict domestic violence laws, you’re the one who is placed under arrest!

How did this happen? How did the victim suddenly become the accused? More importantly, what happens now? Will you now go to jail while your abuser goes free? This is no doubt a complex situation, so let’s unpack it and see what we can learn.

Domestic Violence or Self-Defense?

Military-DV-300x200While domestic violence continues to be an epidemic globally, the problem is apparently worse within military families. Numerous studies have indicated that the rates of domestic violence within military households are substantially greater than those in the civilian population. Given the numerous military bases in and around Southern California, many domestic violence arrests in our area involve military personnel.

Suffice it to say if you are an active or veteran military member and you’ve recently been charged with domestic violence, you’re not alone. Let’s discuss this issue in greater detail.

A Look at the Data

Male-Victim-DV--300x250When we hear stories about domestic violence arrests, we commonly assume that a woman is the victim—and indeed, with more than 1 in 3 women experiencing intimate partner violence at some point in their lives, it’s a reasonable assumption. The truth, however, is that domestic violence is not gender-specific. In fact, a rather shocking percentage of men (1 in 4) will also experience domestic violence at some point in their lives. These men are sometimes assaulted by spouses, partners, exes, or even other family members. And yet, one report indicates that only 26 percent of all DV incidents reported to police involve male victims, even though the actual number is likely much higher. Let’s talk about the ramifications of men as the victims of domestic violence, how it happens, and why these incidents might be underreported.

A Recent High-Profile Case

This issue of male-victim domestic violence was recently thrust into the public dialogue with a news story concerning a high-profile NFL player. Vikings running back Dalvin Cook has filed a civil suit alleging that an ex-girlfriend (a military sergeant named Gracelyn Trimble) entered Cook’s residence, assaulted him, sprayed mace on him and two houseguests, and held them at gunpoint. When she allegedly attempted another assault on a guest, Cook’s attorney says he intervened physically. Trimble has filed her own suit against Cook, also alleging assault, battery, and false imprisonment.

Domestic-Violence-Rates-Are-Still-Spiking-300x200Shortly after cities across the nation and world began their quarantines and shutdowns in early 2020 in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the reports began coming in about concerns about increased domestic violence during the lockdowns particularly because the abused were being “locked in” with their abusers with fewer resources for escape. Not long after, the concerns were confirmed: law enforcement agencies and domestic violence shelters across the board reported significant spikes in the rates of domestic battery. Even so, the general expectation was that as lockdowns eased and the economy reopened, the rates of domestic violence would also drop accordingly.

But recent disturbing data shows this may not be the case. Numerous studies have indicated that domestic violence has continued to increase well into 2021, long after the quarantines were lifted. The Emergency Journal of Medicine estimates that worldwide, domestic violence incidents increased a whopping 25-33 percent throughout 2020–and not necessarily in direct relation to lockdowns. And with the recent surge of the Omicron variant sparking concerns about further shutdowns and quarantines, experts fear we aren’t at the end of this spike just yet.

This information tells us that there’s more fueling this recent increase than just pandemic lockdowns. A deeper dive into the situation shows that there actually may be several ongoing factors contributing to the problem. Let’s examine some of these issues more closely.

Biggest-Domestic-Violence-Stories-of-the-2020s-Part-2-300x200The 2020s have been a time of both positive and negative change for domestic violence victims in the United States. On the one hand, we’ve witnessed many cases that raised awareness of DV and other forms of abuse–and on the other, the increased rates of domestic violence during the pandemic revealed how much work is left to be done. We’ve gained a greater understanding of the different forms domestic violence can take–how it’s not just physical contact, but can also include things like criminal threats, harassing phone calls, and more.

We started this discussion by looking at specific reported instances of domestic violence. Now, let’s take a broader view, looking at news items that address changing attitudes and what may be done to curb domestic violence in America.

New Poll Confirms Increased DV During Pandemic–But Increasing Awareness, as Well

Domestic-Violence-Charges-210x300It’s a scenario that can be both surprising and shocking. You have a verbal disagreement with your spouse or domestic partner (as most couples do). Emotions get heated, and you say some things you shouldn’t have said—and maybe didn’t mean. Someone observes the argument and calls the cops—or maybe your partner makes the call herself. A short time later, you get a visit from the police and find yourself arrested on charges of domestic violence or accused of making criminal threats—even though you never physically touched your spouse!

How could this happen? Could you actually be convicted of domestic violence under these circumstances? Theoretically, you could—especially if your heated exchange included verbal threats. Let’s talk about how California law views emotional abuse as part of domestic violence and when heated words might cross the line into a criminal act.

Emotional Abuse and Domestic Violence

Panic-Attack-DV-300x200If an altercation between you and your partner has ended up with you being arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, chances are your emotions are already at a fever pitch. Being charged with domestic violence can take the fear to a whole new level. Within hours, you’re suddenly faced with the possibility of losing your freedom, your family, access to your kids, etc. Your whole world could be hanging in the balance. Add to that the humiliation caused by being cuffed and put into a patrol car in plain sight of your neighbors, and it’s enough to make anyone anxious. 

All this to say, if you begin experiencing signs of panic attacks or severe anxiety in the wake of your domestic violence arrest, you’re not alone. These reactions are quite common, in fact. And yet, resolving a domestic violence charge may still take time, during which you may still have to deal with some of those triggers. So what can you do in the meantime to deal with any symptoms and bring your emotions into check? Let’s discuss some practical solutions. 

What is a Panic Attack, and What Are the Symptoms? 

pexels-energepiccom-313690-300x225Our justice system is built on the principle that a person is “innocent until proven guilty.” Unfortunately, that’s not how it works in the public debate, especially when it comes to social media. While social media’s purpose is to help us stay connected (at least in theory), the downside is that anyone can say anything on social media without fear of retribution. All it takes is one person publicly accusing another, and everyone who trusts the accuser is likely to take up the offense and make their own negative posts. If the person is facing criminal charges, the problem can be even worse. The accused person may find themselves crucified on social media even before the court process begins. It’s unfair, but it’s just how social media works. 

No one understands this new reality better than someone whose partner or spouse has taken to social media to publicly accuse them of domestic violence—especially when there has been an arrest, and criminal charges have been filed. Once the accusation is “out there,” regardless of your guilt or innocence, it can quickly and permanently skewer your reputation. It can affect your other friendships, family relationships, even your job. Even if you’re eventually exonerated, and the charges are dropped, the stigma of the accusation can linger for years to come. What can you do to fix this situation? What steps can you take to repair your reputation? Social media can definitely be a “wild card” when you’re facing domestic violence charges, so let’s discuss some tips for handling social media with grace and dignity during this difficult time. 

Don’t Respond to Accusations Online 

DrugWhen domestic violence happens in the home, it’s seldom caused by just one thing. While we are all accountable for our choices and our actions, there may be many contributing factors that increase the likelihood of DV occurring. Let’s continue our exploration into habits and behaviors (some unexpected) that may help create a scenario where domestic violence is more likely to occur.  

Alcohol Consumption   

Although the use of alcohol is never a sole trigger of abuse, the connection between alcohol abuse and domestic violence is widely documented. In fact, a report by the World Health Organization states that approximately 55 percent of domestic violence perpetrators do so after consuming alcohol. While many people drink alcohol for its calming or relaxing effects, large amounts of alcohol can lead to irritability and aggression. The actual science behind why this happens isn’t always so clear, but there seem to be several ways in which alcohol consumption can make domestic violence more likely: 

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