Domestic violence is a widespread and deeply troubling offense
The abuser does not have to be a spouse or even living in the same home in order to commit domestic violence. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence defines it as “the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another.” This includes physical assault and battery, stalking, sexual assault, rape, threats, and other offenses.
Domestic violence is an emotionally charged issue that deeply impacts the lives of survivors, their children, and their families. If you or a loved one are interested in pursuing civil charges against an abuser, call The Law Office of Heath L. Baker at (951) 222-2228 or contact us online. Riverside domestic violence attorney Heath Baker will aggressively pursue your case and work to hold the abuser accountable, while treating you and your family with compassion during this difficult time. Call today to schedule your free consultation and continue the path to recovery.
Getting Help in an Abusive Situation
If you are living in an abusive household, it is important to remember that you are not alone and the abuse is not your fault. While you may be feeling overwhelmed or trapped in an abusive situation, there are numerous resources available to help you make the difficult decisions. Depending on your unique situation, one or more of the following resources may be of use to you:
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
- National Teen Dating Helpline: 1-866-331-9474
- National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
- California Partnership to End Domestic Violence: 1-800-524-4765
- Shelter From the Storm (a Riverside County-specific resource): (760) 328-SAFE or 1-800-775-6055
- Alternatives to Domestic Violence: 1-800-339-SAFE
Domestic violence hotlines receive more than 20,000 phone calls per day, and they are typically staffed by trained crisis counselors. These hotlines can be a valuable resource, allowing victims of domestic abuse to find help, resources, and shelters in their area.
Be sure to keep in mind that computer activities are easily traceable. If you fear your abuser could see your search for domestic violence resources, use a safer computer, such as at a public library or a friend’s house.
Domestic Violence & Civil Law
Approximately 20 people per minute are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner, adding up to more than 10 million women and men every year. Intimate partner violence accounts for 15 percent of all violent crime, and it is most common among women between the ages of 18 and 24.
Domestic violence is punishable by both criminal and civil law in the state of California. In certain situations, criminal prosecution may be difficult or altogether impossible; this can be true if the abuser was never arrested or the criminal prosecutor chose not to pursue the case (due to lack of evidence or other factors). If this is the case, victims of domestic violence can pursue a civil case instead.
Section 1708.6 of the California Civil Code allows you to sue someone for domestic violence by proving the following elements:
- The abuser intentionally or recklessly caused (or attempted to cause) bodily injury to the victim
- The abuser and the victim were married, engaged, living together, have a child together, or were dating at the time of the abuse
It is important to note that this section also applies to abusers who “intend to cause” harm or cause “imminent apprehension” of harm, whether or not there was physical contact. However, in order to collect damages, the plaintiff will have to prove that the abuser’s actions caused harm in some shape or form.
Civil cases are easier to prove than criminal cases because they do not require evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Instead, the plaintiff and his or her attorney need only prove that it is more than 50 percent likely that domestic violence occurred.
If you choose to pursue a civil case against your abuser, you are eligible to recover damages for the following:
- Current and future medical expenses incurred by the abuse
- Lost wages due to days away from work (and compensation for decreased future earning potential, if the abuse led to permanent medical issues that will affect the victim’s ability to work)
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
The categories listed above qualify as “compensatory damages,” which are awarded to compensate the plaintiff for losses suffered as a result of the defendant’s conduct. “Punitive damages,” on the other hand, are awarded to punish the defendant for particularly egregious or intentional conduct. Punitive damages are not awarded nearly as often, but for an intentional incident of domestic violence, they could apply.
The Effects of Domestic Violence
The negative effects of domestic violence are significant and well-documented. Approximately 27 percent of all women (and 12 percent of all men) have experienced domestic violence and report having significant short- or long-term complications. Negative effects of abuse include:
- Physical injury: Domestic violence sufferers are more likely to experience acute injuries, including broken bones, head trauma, lacerations, or other serious injuries.
- Sexually transmitted infections: Women who experience intimate partner violence are at an increased risk for HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases
- Changes in mental status: Survivors of domestic violence are at an increased risk of depression, suicidal behavior, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Economic loss: Victims of domestic violence lose approximately 8 million days of paid work every year, costing the U.S. economy more than $8 billion annually.
However, the true emotional and physical cost of domestic violence cannot truly be calculated. Each and every situation is uniquely troubling and deserves aggressive, compassionate representation.
Contact The Riverside Domestic Violence Attorney At The Law Office of Heath Baker
Attorney Heath L. Baker is uniquely familiar with every part of the legal process. Mr. Baker spent several years with the Riverside Police Department, which taught him the ins and outs of a police investigation, the court process, and criminal prosecution. After retiring from the police department, Mr. Baker worked as a licensed private investigator for both criminal and civil cases, focusing specifically on family law and child custody cases for six years. This unique experience allows Mr. Baker to provide support for a case and see every angle as only a former police officer and private investigator can.
If you are seeking help for a domestic violence situation, you are not alone. An experienced Riverside domestic violence lawyer like Mr. Baker can help you build a strong case against your abuser and ensure the best chance of a successful outcome. With Mr. Baker’s help and support, you can hold your abuser accountable and work toward a better, happier situation. Call (951) 222-2228 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation today.