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DV-attorney-defense-Los-Angeles-2-300x200For many years, psychologists, healthcare professionals, and researchers alike have been exploring the underlying causes and factors of domestic violence. To that end, the connection between domestic violence and substance abuse has been well-documented. Repeated studies typically report that between 40 and 60 percent of domestic violence cases involve some sort of substance abuse (i.e., alcohol and illicit drugs). The Addiction Center makes an even steeper claim, saying that nearly 80 percent of domestic violence crimes involve drug use—and one study puts the number as high as 92 percent.

But what about prescription drugs? What about medicines that doctors and the general public typically think of as “safe” when taken correctly? Can there be a link between these medications and domestic violence, as well?

As it turns out, a growing body of evidence strongly suggests that even prescription meds and other legal drugs (not including alcohol) can increase the risk of violence in the home. Let’s discuss some of the drugs most commonly associated with DV and explore the connection in a bit more detail.

Los-Angeles-domestic-violence-defense-June-2020-2-300x200If you want a tongue-in-cheek look at how public attitudes about domestic violence have changed over time, take a couple of hours and watch the classic film The Quiet Man (1952), starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. Set in rural Ireland, this John Ford film takes a humorous (but admittedly politically incorrect) look at the volatile dynamic in husband-wife relationships. It’s almost jarring today to see the various ways the characters in the film “wink the eye” at domestic violence in the movie. At one point during the main characters’ courtship, their chaperone quips to O’Hara’s character, Mary Kate: “Have the good manners not to hit the man until he’s your husband and entitled to hit you back.” During the climax of the film, while Wayne’s character Sean Thornton hauls Mary Kate by arm across the Irish countryside with a crowd following, one of the villagers courteously hands Thornton a stick “to beat the lovely lady.”

Perhaps just as telling is Maureen O’Hara’s description of what happened to her behind the scenes while shooting the film. In a noteworthy commentary, O’Hara claims she literally broke her wrist when John Wayne blocked a punch during one scene, and she had to finish the scene in piercing pain. She also claims that during the climactic scene described earlier, her character was supposed to stumble and have Wayne drag her face-first through the dirt—except that Wayne and the director had filled the spot with sheep dung as a “practical joke.”

While these antics (both on and off-screen) would be considered completely inappropriate today, they underscore how much public views of domestic violence have changed across several generations. In truth, domestic violence has been a blight on human culture for many centuries—the main thing that changes is how permissive society is toward it. Looking back just a few decades, it can be surprising to see how much women, in particular, were subjected to in earlier times, and how much they were simply expected to put up with as “the way things were.” Even our grandparents and great-grandparents likely had a different view of domestic violence than we do today. Let’s launch into a deeper look at how earlier generations looked at this issue in Western culture (i.e., Europe and the Americas), both to see how far we’ve come and what we may have yet to learn.

Quarantine-300x200If you ask many people whether there’s a silver lining behind the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, they might tell you that quarantining at home has given them a chance to stop and re-evaluate their priorities, to spend more quality time with family and loved ones, to focus on self-care and self-improvement, or any of a handful of other platitudes. And certainly, for many of us, the stay-at-home orders have given us a chance to recalibrate our lives in some way.

But being quarantined with family isn’t a “silver lining” for everyone. For some households, being cooped up in close quarters can turn toxic—especially if there are unresolved issues involved. For many, things have even turned violent, as demonstrated by a significant spike in the number of domestic violence incidents reported during this time.

What do you do if you were in the second group—the one where quarantining triggered toxic behavior? Perhaps a discussion devolved into an argument and things got out of hand. Maybe you have found yourself arrested and separated from family on an accusation of domestic violence. Where is the “silver lining” in that kind of situation?

covid-domestic-abuse-300x200Quite often, domestic violence is framed either in the sterile context of criminology and statistics or in the raw context of our own emotions. The reality lies somewhere between these extremes. If we look past the crime itself, past the numbers, and past our own offense, we can see that domestic violence occurs in real families with actual people and complex emotions—people who often don’t even understand what triggers their behavior. For many households, the quarantines and lockdowns prompted by COVID-19 are making these triggers even more sensitive, prompting an increase in the rate of domestic violence across the globe.

We’ve already talked about some of the numbers and factors behind this increase in DV during the pandemic. Now, let’s talk about the human factor—the increased pressures caused by this situation which may serve as triggers, and how families can respond to reduce the risk and perhaps prevent outbreaks of domestic violence in the home.

Common Triggers of Domestic Violence During Lockdown

Los-Angeles-Domestic-Violence-Defense-2-300x200In 2014, noted female soccer star Hope Solo was arrested and charged with two counts of domestic violence assault charges against her half-sister and 17-year-old nephew. That same year, singer Solange (sister of Beyoncé Knowles) was caught on video violently attacking her brother-in-law Jay-Z.

These stories grab our attention, not just because of the celebrities involved, but because they point out the rare occasions in which we hear about women committing some sort of domestic abuse.

When we think about domestic violence, we typically presume the perpetrator is a man and the victim is a woman. And with good reason: The overwhelming majority of DV cases involve a male perpetrator and a female victim. However, some women can be as violent as men when it comes to their relationships, and some believe the number of women who commit domestic violence is significantly underreported. Let’s take an overview of this often-overlooked issue to see what we can learn.

In 2006, a sexual abuse survivor named Tarana Burke launched a grassroots movement to help give other survivors a voice and a sense of community, as well as to raise awareness to prevent future incidents of sexual violence. To create a sense of solidarity, she aptly named her initiative the “Me Too” movement.

Eleven years later, the #MeToo movement was suddenly thrust into the international conversation when the New York Times published an article alleging a longtime pattern of sexual abuse by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. As the #MeToo hashtag went viral across social media, millions of victimized women found a fresh sense of empowerment, and millions of the rest of us were dismayed to discover just how many of our sisters, wives, and friends had quietly endured various forms of sexual harassment and abuse over the years.

As more allegations came to light and more high-profile public figures went down in disgrace (over 200 by the last count), it became clear that this movement would spearhead a cultural shift—not just regarding incidents of overt sexual abuse and harassment in the workplace and otherwise, but also redefining what was considered appropriate behavior and conversation, particularly in the workplace. While many celebrated the shift as ushering in a long-overdue era of female empowerment, others were left in a state of confusion as seemingly innocent flirtations and the occasional off-color joke, once assumed to be harmless, were now looked upon as offensive. Many began second-guessing their every interaction with the opposite sex and grappling to figure out what was acceptable in the “new normal.” Still others feared the movement might swing the pendulum too far in the opposite direction, endangering the careers of innocent individuals on the power of unsubstantiated testimonies and creating the assumption of guilt until innocence was proven.

Los-Angeles-Domestic-Violence-Defense-3-300x200Some of life’s most important lessons can be gained within the stories of others—including how to view issues like domestic violence. Now that we’ve closed the door on the 2010s, we’re spotlighting some of the decade’s most notable stories of domestic violence to see what truths we can glean from them. If you are currently facing possible DV charges, let’s take a closer look at the following real-life stories from the past ten years.

Knocked Unconscious, then Scalded

As one of the more gruesome examples of DV this decade, in 2016, Suzanne Thomas of Nottingham, England suffered severe burns to 27 percent of her body after her ex-boyfriend, Jason McLean, poured boiling water over her. Their relationship began innocently enough, and six months later, Thomas invited McLean to live with her. Over time, however, the couple began to argue more frequently, their exchanges becoming more heated. Things came to a head when McLean shoved Thomas’ head against a wall, after which he apologized and promised never to do that again. However, the emotional damage had been done, and Thomas found herself living in fear of his hair-trigger temper.

Los-Angeles-Domestic-Violence-Defense-4-300x213The State of California takes domestic violence charges very seriously, and legislators have crafted a broad set of laws to protect potential victims. However, if you’ve recently been accused, arrested or charged with domestic violence, your thoughts probably won’t be on the technicalities of the law, but on what happens next. What can you expect in the wake of domestic abuse allegations, and just as importantly, what are the penalties if you are convicted?

You can brush up on the specific California laws dealing with domestic violence here if you wish, but for now, let’s dig more deeply into the potential legal consequences of breaking those laws—what you can expect, and what (if anything) you can do to defend your innocence if wrongly accused?

Felony or Misdemeanor?

Los-Angeles-Domestic-Violence-Defense-5-300x215As human beings, we are connected in ways we don’t always realize—especially within our family units. We like to tell ourselves that we alone pay the price for our mistakes, but those mistakes can potentially make a deep impact on the people we love. To give an uncomfortable example, a growing body of research strongly suggests domestic violence can be passed down generationally. In other words, children who are exposed to domestic violence have an increased likelihood of repeating the pattern in adulthood.

The Urban Child Institute summarizes the issue plainly. “Children who witness domestic violence grow up to have a greater risk of living in violent relationships themselves, whether as victims or as perpetrators,” they say. “Without more awareness of this problem and help for these families, the burden of domestic violence will continue to be passed from one generation to the next.”

This phenomenon, commonly called “intergenerational transmission of domestic violence,” extends beyond just a few isolated cases. In just one of many studies on this issue, the results were nothing short of disturbing. In compiling data from 1600 American families, researchers found that four out of five children living with domestically violent partners eventually committed violence against their own partners as adults. Likewise, three-quarters of adult children also became victims.

Los-Angeles-Domestic-Violence-Defense-6-300x200If we were to classify domestic violence as an illness, by all standards it would be an epidemic. Statistics show that 1 in 4 women, and 1 in 9 men, becomes a victim of DV at some point in life—affecting as many as 10 million Americans each year.

What isn’t always clear is: Why?

Any act of domestic violence, no matter how “minor” it seems in the moment, can wreak great havoc in your life. Just one occurrence can fracture your relationships and potentially take your freedom. Understanding why it occurs can be a key to preventing it. If you can identify the driving factors or triggers behind your behavior, you have a better chance of addressing it so domestic violence doesn’t occur—or doesn’t occur again. So let’s explore some of the most common factors experts have identified as driving forces behind DV.

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