U.S. courts take domestic violence cases very seriously. A charge of domestic violence does not indicate any single instance of abuse, but many cases of abuse over a period of time. These unclear patterns can sometimes make domestic violence difficult to identify or prove.

Most organizations recognize domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behavior used in relationships by one party to manipulate and control the other. Many victims of domestic violence may not even realize what is happening or how to take action against their abusers.

Identifying domestic violence

The patterns of abusive behavior that make up domestic violence are not entirely physical, though physical abuse is not uncommon. Abusers may also employ sexual and emotional abuse to exert more control over their victim’s private life, while financial abuse can help abusers control a victim’s daily activity.

Domestic violence does not always occur between two spouses, either. The Office on Violence Against Women defines domestic violence when an individual commits a violent felony or misdemeanor crime against:

  • A current or former spouse, intimate partner or cohabitant
  • A person with whom they share a child
  • Any person protected under the domestic violence laws of the jurisdiction

A state court may also identify stalking or threats as domestic violence. North Carolina processes most offenses through criminal statutes and not specific domestic violence laws. If a North Carolina judge determines a “personal relationship” exists between the plaintiff and defender, the judge may rule that the abuser undergo special treatment as part of the litigation. These treatments may include medical or psychiatric care, rehabilitative institutionalization, counseling, the completion of a drug treatment program, or even abstinence from drugs or alcohol.

Protections for North Carolinians

Victims of domestic violence may want to press criminal charges against their abusers. Securing the services of a local attorney can help residents identify support systems and protections that will keep them safe while bringing legal action against their abusers.