Articles Posted in DV

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.

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? 

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: 

Elder-abuse-domestic-violence-225x300As our society has expanded its understanding of what makes up a family, we see statistically that no family unit is immune to the threat of domestic violence. Whether you’re part of what is historically considered a “traditional” family (i.e., heterosexual married couple/biological parents) or one of many types of “nontraditional” families, it’s still possible for disagreements to get out of hand, emotional triggers to surface…and before you know it, someone is facing domestic violence charges with a restraining order blocking them from the people they love. 

We’ve already begun exploring how domestic violence may affect certain nontraditional families, but let’s continue looking at this topic below.  

Cohabitating Families 

immigration-and-domestic-violence-200x300A domestic violence arrest can disrupt your life and your family on many levels on its own. But when you are an immigrant to the United States, and you’re facing domestic violence charges, things can get even more complicated very quickly. Depending on the circumstances and how severe the charge is, a domestic violence conviction can jeopardize your immigration status even if you’ve already obtained your Green Card. You could be disqualified from eventual citizenship and possibly even deported. Let’s take a closer look at this issue and talk about how domestic violence charges could affect you from an immigration standpoint and what (if anything) can be done to minimize the impact.

Immigration Laws and Criminal Convictions

Under United States law, an immigrant can lose their legal status if they are convicted for certain types of crimes, particularly for aggravated felonies and/or crimes involving moral turpitude. Domestic violence charges frequently fall into one or both of these categories, and that’s why a domestic violence conviction could threaten your legal status as an immigrant. From an immigration standpoint, any domestic violence charge that results in a prison sentence of one year or more classifies as an aggravated felony. Examples of DV crimes involving moral turpitude may include, but are not limited to:

Domestic-violence-defense-LA1-200x300Consider the following scenario. You recently had a disagreement with your significant other. Heated words were exchanged. You said some things in the heat of the moment that you later regretted. Perhaps you left and spent the next few days elsewhere, but you called to continue the argument, and again you exchanged heated words. Not long after, there’s a knock at your door. The cops arrest you on a complaint of domestic violence. You’re in utter disbelief. “I don’t understand. I never laid a hand on her!” you tell the police—and later, your lawyer.

Perhaps you are telling the absolute truth; you didn’t lay a hand on her. Did she make up a story to get you in trouble? Possibly. But it’s also possible that in that exchange, you actually broke the law without realizing it.

California’s domestic violence laws are designed to provide extensive legal protections for victims, and therefore, they categorize a wide range of actions as domestic violence—even things that don’t involve any physical contact with your spouse, partner, or family member.

2020-Los-Angeles-domestic-violence-2-286x300The end of the year naturally provides an opportunity to look back on key moments to see what we can learn. The year 2020 has been filled with cautionary tales, especially concerning incidents of domestic violence, which have been on the rise in the midst of the pandemic. Let’s continue reviewing some of the most notable news stories of domestic violence to discover what lessons we can learn.

More Deaths from Domestic Violence than from COVID-19

As a key example of how “safer-at-home” orders can backfire for high-risk households…ProRepublica reports that in parts of rural Alaska, more people have died from acts of domestic violence in recent months than from COVID-19.

DV-in-BIPOC-community-300x200On October 19, activists held a rally in Leimert Park in South Los Angeles to raise awareness of the prevalence of domestic violence among the BIPOC community (Black, Indigenous and People of Color). The event, hosted by a partnership of Black justice organizations collectively known as #Standing4BlackGirls, coincides with Domestic Violence Awareness Month, recognized every October for decades.

While domestic violence respects no color and can impact people of every ethnicity, it has been widely documented that the BIPOC community seems to be affected disproportionately compared to whites, especially in America. Extensive research has been done to explore the reasons for this, and while some answers are easy to document, other explanations remain elusive or speculative. Let’s discuss this question in a bit more detail to see what we can learn.

Breaking Down the Numbers

domestic-violence-mental-illness-300x200The presumed link between mental illness and violence is a hot-button topic these days—and to the chagrin of many mental health professionals, this connection seems to add to the stigma of those who suffer from various types of mental illness. There are likely two reasons why this connection has been made, at least in the arena of public belief. First, we’ve seen numerous high-profile violent crimes in recent years (most notably related to gun violence and/or mass shootings) that have been attributed with people who have been diagnosed with severe mental illness. And second, many acts of violence are so senseless that we naturally begin looking for a reason why they might have occurred. (In other words, when a violent act appears to be insane, we generally blame it on insanity.)

This idea also raises an important question among couples and families: Can mental illness be a contributing factor or trigger mechanism for domestic violence? Put another way, can we blame an act of domestic violence on mental illness? For that matter, if so, could mental illness be used as a successful defense against domestic violence charges? Let’s explore this question in a bit more detail, looking at the latest science and research while unpacking some of the myths surrounding this question.

The Short Answer Is Yes—But It’s Far More Seldom than You Think

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