Domestic Violence

Most people hear the words "domestic violence" and they think of a woman being hit by her husband. There are many forms of domestic violence, however, and men are sometimes the victims.

Domestic violence is all about power and control of the abuser over the victim(s), and that can also include emotional abuse or stalking.

Domestic violence (DV) is also an umbrella term for other forms of abuse such as family violence, intimate partner violence and spousal abuse. It is characterized by the existence of an intimate relationship between the parties, which can include marriage, dating, cohabitation (even roommates not in a relationship) and family.

Domestic violence is not limited to just physical acts of violence. Along with the obvious (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, physical intimidation, sexual assault and more), nonphysical forms of abuse (such as deliberate and systematic emotional and mental abuse) can fall into the category of domestic violence. Stalking, particularly if in violation of a court order (this is known as aggravated stalking) is also domestic violence.

Even financial control over a partner can qualify as DV if it is used to systematically deprive the victim of his or her freedom and maintain control over that person's life by creating an economic bondage (i.e., not being allowed to work, being forced to quit a job, etc.).

Domestic violence is characterized by a cycle that includes three primary stages (tension building, acute explosion, honeymoon period) and typically repeats itself over and over as the abuser exerts control over more aspects of the victim's life. The tension-building phase sets the groundwork for domestic violence. There are minor battering events and the victim, not knowing how to react to what may be never-before-seen behavior, attempts to calm things, makes excuses for the behavior (including self-blame) and acquiesces to try to prevent more incidents.

At some point after escalation of the tension-building incidents, the batterer has an acute explosion that is often triggered by an event in the batterer's life that has nothing to do with the victim (work-related, favorite sports team loses a game, etc.) and the batterer unloads on the victim. This can include severe beatings necessitating medical care (for which victims often lie and claim an accident or self-infliction) or leading to someone other than the parties calling the police, particularly if heard in an apartment complex. The victim also may call the police.

In addition to the physical violence, the batterer may threaten to kill the victim, lash out at pets or children and make threats against those dear to the victim, all of which are sure to incite fear and anxiety.

After a violent episode, batterers attempt to make up for what they've said and done, typically apologizing, promising that it will never happen again, perhaps promising to seek treatment, etc. Maybe in the moment, abusers actually believe their own words, which are accompanied by loving behavior that convinces the victim that it will be the last time. However, it's really a ruse perpetrated to re-establish control over the victim.

When victims stay in an abusive situation (for myriad reasons), their will and even ability to leave (for example, the economic abuse discussed above) is systematically and progressively broken down, and the cycle starts again with tension building.

Georgia courts take domestic violence very seriously when determining what is in the best interests of the child. When determining whether the custody of a child should be modified, family violence can be the determining factor. When the court investigates the parties (often with the assistance of a guardian ad litem) to make a determination regarding custody of the children, the home life and environment will be thoroughly investigated, including whether there are any instances or allegations of family violence. The accused will have the opportunity to confront the accuser and provide evidence to the contrary. The trial court also has the discretion to order one or both parents to undergo a psychological evaluation.

Call Or Email Our Alpharetta Office

If you have been a victim of domestic violence or accused of domestic violence, call Hecht Family Law in Alpharetta at 678-926-9234 to discuss your situation. It is important that you know your rights and how the law pertains to you, regardless of which side of the situation you are on. Attorney Ed Hecht will educate you and lay out a plan of action to help you get through this.