An issue as sensitive and unnerving as domestic violence is seldom brought up in conversation. While the aversion is understandable, the reality is that abuse continues to prevail in households around the country.
According to recent national statistics, there are almost 20 cases of physical abuse between intimate partners in the United States every minute. This produces over 10 million victims annually.
It’s important to recognize that all genders are at the receiving end of domestic violence. However, the fact that the majority of victims are females represents another crucial problem. As for solutions, we can start by discussing the laws that exist to reduce and penalize the mistreatment of women. Here’s what you need to know.
Any violent act committed against an individual who the law protects from assault is considered domestic violence if the plaintiff and defendant are in a domestic relationship. The litigants can be dating partners, spouses, or relatives.
This guide focuses on the Violence Against Women Act, which forms part of the federal legislation that handles domestic violence. For further details on the legal elements of assault charges, protective orders, and penalties in domestic violence convictions, read this article where a Criminal Defense Lawyer Explains What Domestic Violence Is.
The original Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was signed in 1994 with the aim of preventing abuse against women. In addition to implementing a national domestic violence hotline, the legislation outlined new considerations for victims of physical and sexual harm. This includes the following key provisions:
- Dedicated crime units in high-risk neighborhoods
- Full enforcement of victim protection orders and funding for associated legal fees
- Green card applications for undocumented immigrants who report their abusers to officials
- Permission for tribal courts to try non-Indian partners of Indian offenders in domestic violence cases
- Specific domestic and sexual violence training programs for police officers
Are there any requirements for a domestic violence crime to qualify as misdemeanor conduct? The VAWA indicates that the accused must be an intimate partner, parent or guardian who used or attempted to use physical force. It may also be a misdemeanor if the case involves the threatened use of a deadly weapon.
An important section of the VAWA comprises movement limitations that apply to convicted abusers. This includes laws that prohibit offenders from forcing or following victims across state lines. Before the restrictions were passed, an order of protection wasn’t always recognized due to disparities between jurisdictions.
Today, the validity of a protection order is safeguarded by the Violence Against Women Act. It grants full faith and credit for all orders issued in civil and criminal proceedings.
Another way that the VAWA can protect you is by ensuring that any violations to your protection order are responded to appropriately, which wasn’t always the case in the past. Now, there are mandatory arrest and pro-arrest initiatives and programs that police departments must adhere to.
This is just part of the legislation that helps keep us safe in domestic abuse cases. What do you think can be done to build on this and further reduce violence against women?