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Domestic Violence 101: A Guide For Spousal Abuse Victims In New Jersey

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What is domestic violence? What are the signs of domestic abuse? How can you get help for spousal abuse in New Jersey? Find out what are crimes of domestic violence and the legal process in NJ. Learn about temporary restraining orders, who can get them, how to get them. Find out why timing is important in getting a final restraining order for a domestic violence matter. Learn how to help yourself or a loved one in this guide for domestic violence victims and their families, from Weinberger Law Group.

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Domestic Violence 101: A Guide For Spousal Abuse Victims In New Jersey

  1. 1. Bedminster • Freehold • Hackensack • Mount Laurel • Parsippany DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101 A G U I D E F O R D O M E S T I C V I O L E N C E V I C T I M S A N D T H E I R FA M I L I E S I N N E W J E R S E Y
  2. 2. What are the signs? & How can you get help? PRESENTED BY
  3. 3. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101 DISCLAIMER This presentation contains general information and does not constitute legal advice. Be sure to direct specific questions about your own situation to an attorney. 03
  4. 4. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101 • A Guide to New Jersey Domestic Violence • Defining Domestic Violence and Abuse. • Signs of Domestic Violence or Abuse. • Seeking Help and Impediments to Seeking Help. • New Jersey Crimes of Domestic Violence. • The New Jersey Legal Process. • Resources. 4 Sections
  5. 5. What is Domestic Violence and Who are its Victims?
  6. 6. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: DEFINING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE? Domestic violence or abuse includes physical violence, verbal or physical aggression, and other controlling behavior directed toward a current or former intimate partner or adult household member. Many signs of domestic abuse overlap and early signs can be easy to dismiss, particularly if a victim feels emotionally close to or dependent on the abuser. In this presentation, we will show you how to recognize specific early or present indicators of abuse. 6
  7. 7. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: DEFINING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE WHO ARE THE VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE OR ABUSE? • Although women are more frequently victimized, domestic violence and abuse are genderless problems, affecting both women and men in opposite sex or same sex relationships. • Elderly victims may experience domestic abuse from adult children or other household members. • Domestic abuse is generally the term used when abuse is occurring between adults (as opposed to “child abuse”). Children can be direct victims of abuse or can suffer psychological harm from observing abuse in the home.
  8. 8. Faces of Domestic Violence Physical assault is the easiest type of domestic violence to recognize, but many types of more subtle behavior also amount to domestic violence or abuse. We will look closely at three couples to demonstrate a few common examples of the many possible scenarios:
  9. 9. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: DEFINING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE Ethan and Candice: A PATTERN OF VERBAL AND EMOTIONAL ABUSE 9 • Ethan is not physically violent, but he frequent belittles his wife Candice. • Ethan swears at Candice, calls her offensive names and discourages her from maintaining close friendships or pursuing activities outside the home. • He sometimes takes away her car keys or physically prevents her from leaving home. T H I S I S D O M E S T I C V I O L E N C E .
  10. 10. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: DEFINING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE Robert and Becky: DATING OR FORMER DATING PARTNERS 10 • Robert and Becky dated for a couple of years and broke up recently. • Becky calls Robert at all hours of the day and night, and often leaves him angry messages. • Becky has also come to Robert’s home uninvited several times, on two occasions entering the home through an unlocked door and waiting for him. • Recently Robert’s car was vandalized, and he is certain that Becky is the culprit. T H I S I S D O M E S T I C V I O L E N C E .
  11. 11. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: DEFINING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE Cassandra and Blake: MUTUAL ABUSE WITH ALCOHOL INVOLVEMENT 11 • Cassandra and Blake’s loving relationship recently began to change after Blake lost his job and started drinking excessively. • The financial strain and Blake’s drinking make Cassandra so angry that she is having trouble controlling herself. • Cassandra has been following Blake around the house yelling at him, and on one occasion she slapped him across the face. • Blake has responded by physically pushing Cassandra away, once so hard that she fell against a door frame, badly bruising her shoulder. T H I S I S D O M E S T I C V I O L E N C E .
  12. 12. Signs of Domestic Violence
  13. 13. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: SIGNS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE • If you are afraid of your partner, former partner, or other household member for any reason, or if your confidence and self-esteem has suffered in the relationship, this is a warning sign. • Early or more subtle signs of domestic abuse can require help from a mental health professional for the person exhibiting this behavior. Without such help, behavior frequently worsens over time. 4 Signs of Domestic Violence or Abuse IF YOU SEE ANY OF THE FOLLOWING BEHAVIORS, DO NOT MINIMIZE THE PROBLEM, GET HELP NOW!
  14. 14. ANGER ISSUES are at the root of many forms of domestic abuse and may appear prior to actual physical violence as an early sign of abuse. 14 RED F L AGS: • A volatile and unpredictable temper. • A tendency to scream or throw things when upset. • Threats of physical violence. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: SIGNS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
  15. 15. CONTROLLING OR JEALOUS BEHAVIOR is one of the hallmarks of domestic abuse and may precede actual violence. 15 RED F L AGS: • Excessive jealously or possessiveness. • Limiting a victim’s activities outside the home or contacts with friends and family. • Monitoring or restricting phone or computer use. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: SIGNS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
  16. 16. ECONOMIC OR FINANCIAL ABUSE is controlling behavior aimed at limiting a victim’s ability to make independent choices or leave an abusive situation. 16 RED F L AGS: • Restricting access to finances. • Confiscating paychecks. • Abusing credit. • Stealing a victim’s financial identity. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: SIGNS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
  17. 17. EMOTIONAL OR PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE may range from subtle to outrageous and may escalate or develop into physical violence. 17 RED F L AGS: • Criticizing, name calling, swearing. • Threatening to destroy property. • Threatening to injure or kill a victim. • Threatening to harm someone close to a victim, including themselves. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: SIGNS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
  18. 18. DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY is criminal behavior when done recklessly or intentionally, and is another sign of anger or control. 18 RED F L AGS: • Escalating anger issues. • Threatening to destroy property. • Using property in a way likely to cause harm. • Using dangerous substances such as fire or explosives without proper safety precautions. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: SIGNS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
  19. 19. CHILD ABUSE is addressed by separate laws and procedures, but commonly occurs along with domestic abuse, and may amount to emotional abuse of a parent. 19 RED F L AGS: • Escalating anger. • Unreasonably harsh discipline. • Threatening to injure or kill a child. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: SIGNS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
  20. 20. ANIMAL ABUSE carries its own criminal penalties and may also be emotionally abusive to a pet owner. 20 RED F L AGS: • Anger issues. • Psychological abuse. • Threatening to injure or kill a pet. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: SIGNS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
  21. 21. DOMESTIC SEXUAL ABUSE includes any kind of non-consensual sexual contact with a current or former intimate partner or adult household member. 21 RED F L AGS: • Possessive or unreasonably jealous behavior. • Any kind of coerced physical contact. • Threatening to physically force sexual contact. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: SIGNS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
  22. 22. PHYSICAL VIOLENCE directed against a victim is an extreme form of domestic abuse with the potential to cause personal injury or death. 22 RED F L AGS: • Other forms of domestic abuse. • Threatening to injure or kill a victim. • Threatening to harm to someone close to a victim, including themselves. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: SIGNS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
  23. 23. How to Seek Help & Overcome Common Impediments
  24. 24. Seeking Help EMERGENCY SITUATIONS IF YOU ARE IN IMMEDIATE DANGER, CALL 911 If you are able to leave the premises, do so immediately. You can always go to nearest police station. Call a Domestic Violence Hotline to make a PLAN: New Jersey Domestic Violence Hotline: 1 (800) 572-7233 (SAFE). National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1 (800) 799-7233 (SAFE).
  25. 25. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: SEEKING HELP SEEKING HELP Victims experience emotions ranging from sadness, guilt, and embarrassment, to overpowering fear. Sometimes victims believe that children are better off with parents who are together even if the parents’ relationship is not healthy. Many victims fear that the abuser will retaliate if they seek help, increasing the danger of the situation. Let’s look at some challenges faced by our three example couples and some possible first steps for them: 25 COMMON I MPEDI MENTS
  26. 26. Impediments to Seeking Help: ETHAN AND CANDICE 26 • Candice’s self-esteem has been negatively affected by Ethan’s behavior, interfering with her ability to recognize the seriousness of her situation. • She is also financially dependent on Ethan and has two financially dependent young children. • Candice needs to make a plan. She can begin by consulting with both a therapist and a family law attorney to get some perspective on her situation and advice regarding her best next steps. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: SEEKING HELP
  27. 27. Impediments to Seeking Help: ROBERT AND BECKY 27 • Robert is not aware that Becky’s actions amount to domestic violence as they were never married or even living together. • He is hesitant to report Becky’s behavior to the police because he feels sorry for her and guilty about hurting her. He believes she needs help and wants to avoid causing her more trouble. • Robert is right that Becky needs emotional support, but he cannot be the one to provide it. • He needs to consider making a police report and/or consulting with an attorney. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: SEEKING HELP
  28. 28. Impediments to Seeking Help: BLAKE AND CASSANDRA 28 • Both Blake and Cassandra are depressed, and neither can imagine ending the relationship. • Cassandra believes Blake’s behavior is abusive, but she does not see that her own actions are also abusive and are escalating things. • Both Blake and Cassandra need to seek help for their anger issues and depression. Blake also needs help for alcohol abuse. • Blake is almost twice Cassandra’s size, putting her in a vulnerable position. She needs to ask Blake to stay somewhere else or find a safe place to stay herself. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: SEEKING HELP
  29. 29. Seeking Help: MAKING A SAFETY PLAN 29 • Pack some clothing and other essential items such as money and important documents (lists of addresses and phone numbers, social security cards or birth certificates for you and your children) so that you will be ready to leave at any time. • Teach children how to use the phone and what steps they should take in an emergency. • Decide in advance whether you will go to the home of a friend or relative or to a domestic violence shelter. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: SEEKING HELP
  30. 30. Seeking Help: COLLECTING EVIDENCE OF ABUSE 30 • Write out a detailed description of every instance of abuse. • Save any mail, email, text messages or voice recordings containing threats or offensive language. • Photograph any visible injuries. • Write down names, addresses, and telephone numbers of witnesses. • Keep copies of all medical or emergency room records and reports. • Bring the information with you when you consult with an attorney, make a police report, or apply for a restraining order on your own. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: SEEKING HELP
  31. 31. Seeking Help: ATTORNEY ASSISTANCE 31 • A consultation with an attorney should be part of your safety plan. • You do not have to worry about your abuser finding out about the consultation. All of your information will be kept confidential. • It is especially important to have attorney assistance as early as possible if you have children with your abuser or if you are married to your abuser and need financial support. • You can ask the court to order the abuser to pay your attorney’s fees if you file a civil complaint and request a restraining order. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: SEEKING HELP
  32. 32. Seeking Help: MAINTAINING A CONFIDENTIAL ADDRESS 32 • If you are concerned about the abuser discovering your location, you can request that your address be omitted from any public reports or court papers. • Victims of domestic violence can apply for a long-term confidential address through The New Jersey Address Confidentiality Program. • This program forwards mail from a substituted address to a victim’s actual location. • On request, a victim’s state and local government records can also be kept confidential. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: SEEKING HELP
  33. 33. When is Domestic Violence a Crime in New Jersey?
  34. 34. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: CRIMES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE The New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (NJPDVA) The NJPDVA (N.J.S.A.2C:25-17 et seq.) defines domestic violence to include 14 specific criminal offenses, whenever these offenses are perpetrated by an adult or emancipated minor upon a current or former spouse, household member, dating partner, or co-parent (including a future co-parent if one party is pregnant). These crimes can be prosecuted in criminal court, but can also be the basis for relief under the NJPDVA. 03
  35. 35. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: CRIMES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE • Homicide • Assault • Terroristic threats • Kidnapping • Criminal restraint • False imprisonment • Sexual assault • Criminal sexual contact • Lewdness • Criminal mischief • Burglaryaq • Criminal trespass • Harassment • Stalking 4 NJPDVA CRIMES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
  36. 36. Crimes under the NJPDVA ETHAN AND CANDICE 36 • By communicating in offensively coarse language or in an annoying or alarming manner, Robert may have committed “harassment.” • By physically preventing Candice from leaving the home, he may have committed “false imprisonment.” • Both of these offenses are included in the NJPDVA. An attorney could discuss the applicability of the restraining order process with Candice and help her obtain temporary orders for spousal support and child support. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: CRIMES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
  37. 37. Crimes under the NJPDVA ROBERT AND BECKY 37 • Becky may have engaged in “harassment” by making frequent angry phone calls to Robert. • She has committed “criminal trespass” by entering Robert’s home unlawfully. • Vandalizing Robert’s car amounts to “criminal mischief.” • Becky’s behavior is escalating into a pattern known as “stalking.” • All of these offenses are included in the NJPDVA. Robert would be wise to consult an attorney about getting a restraining order against Becky. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: CRIMES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
  38. 38. Crimes under the NJPDVA BLAKE AND CASSANDRA 38 • Both Cassandra and Blake have committed “simple assault,” Blake by pushing Cassandra into the door and Cassandra by slapping Blake in the face. • This couple is closely bonded and neither of them currently wants to start legal action, but they need to understand the high degree of danger and the risk that the violence between them could escalate. • Both Blake and Cassandra have cases for restraining orders, and in these kinds of situations couples sometimes end up with mutual restraining orders. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: CRIMES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
  39. 39. Domestic Violence: The Legal Process
  40. 40. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: LEGAL PROCESS NEW JERSEY LEGAL PROCESS 40 Restraining orders under the NJPDVA TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER (TRO) • Prevents abuser from having contact with victim temporarily. • May include other relief, such as temporary orders for child custody and financial support. FINAL RESTRAINING ORDER (FRO) • May be ordered after a court hearing scheduled approximately 10 days after the TRO. • Both victim and abuser appear at court and testify under oath.
  41. 41. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: LEGAL PROCESS The primary objective of a restraining order is to eliminate physical contact between a victim and a perpetrator. The order may require the perpetrator to: • Stay a specified distance from a protected person. • Stay a specified distance from a protected person’s home, workplace, school, or other location. • Refrain from calling or otherwise contacting a protected person (by e-mail, text, and/or mail for instance). • Refrain from contacting other relevant and interested persons. 4 RELIEF AVAILABLE UNDER THE NJPDVA Restraining orders
  42. 42. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: LEGAL PROCESS Protections for children may include: • A temporary child custody and visitation schedule (or a temporary denial of visitation). • An order for a risk assessment to determine the need for supervised visitation or other restrictions on visitation. • An order for temporary child support. 4 RELIEF AVAILABLE UNDER THE NJPDVA Protection for Children
  43. 43. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: LEGAL PROCESS Financial relief may include: • Temporary orders for spousal support, including payment of rent, mortgage, insurance, and other expenses. • Temporary possession of the marital home. • Temporary possession of jointly owned personal property such as a car. • Orders for payment of medical bills or attorneys fees. • Compensatory or punitive damages for lost income or personal injuries. 4 RELIEF AVAILABLE UNDER THE NJPDVA Financial Relief
  44. 44. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: LEGAL PROCESS • If the perpetrator possesses dangerous weapons, the request for relief can include a warrant for search and seizure. • The perpetrator may be ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation. • The perpetrator may be ordered to attend a batterers intervention program. • The perpetrator may be ordered to participate in another type of treatment, such as substance abuse treatment. 4 RELIEF AVAILABLE UNDER THE NJPDVA Additional Relief
  45. 45. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: LEGAL PROCESS How to File a Domestic Violence Complaint and Request a TRO You can file forms for a civil complaint and TRO request at either the Family Division of your county Superior Court or your local police station. COURTHOUSE HOURS: Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. To download a pdf outlining the legal process involved under the NJDVPA, go to http://www.weinbergerlawgroup.com/assets/files/nj- info-domesticviolence-law-explained.pdf 45 POLICE STATION HOURS: Weekends & Monday-Friday after 4:00 p.m. When you arrive at the county courthouse or police station, tell the clerk or officer on duty that you are a victim of domestic violence and would like to file a complaint and request a restraining order.
  46. 46. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: LEGAL PROCESS 11 Forms Required for a TRO: To download a pdf including the forms for a New Jersey Domestic Violence Civil Complaint and TRO and detailed information on completion, go to: http://www.weinbergerlawgroup.com/assets/files/nj- domesticviolence-tro-form.pdf
  47. 47. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: LEGAL PROCESS NEW JERSEY LEGAL PROCESS Representation by a skilled attorney can reduce your anxiety and can make the difference… 47 Converting a TRO to an FRO Within approximately 10 days following issuance of a TRO, the court will schedule a hearing where a judge will decide whether the order should be dismissed or converted into a Final Restraining Order (FRO). Both you and your abuser will appear and testify at this hearing. If you do not already have an attorney, you should have one before the hearing on the FRO. Representation by a skilled attorney can reduce your anxiety and can make the difference between your TRO being dismissed or becoming a final order. An FRO can generally include anything that a TRO can include, as well as additional appropriate relief. Relief granted in an FRO will be permanent unless the FRO is dismissed in a further court proceeding.
  48. 48. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: LEGAL PROCESS TIMING IS IMPORTANT FOR A FINAL RESTRAINING ORDER 48 Time is of the essence: if you are in need of a restraining order, don’t delay. When seeking a final restraining order the courts will look at the following: • proof that the crime of domestic violence occurred, and • evidence to prove that protection from the abuser is necessary. Lapses between when the incident of domestic violence occurred and when the restraining order is sought will be scrutinized by the court, as will any contact that occurs between the parties during this time.
  49. 49. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: LEGAL PROCESS AFTER A RESTRAINING ORDER IS GRANTED PRECAUTIONARY STEPS 49 • Give copies of your order to anyone affected by the terms (for example, any other people the court has ordered the abuser to stay away from) and anyone who may be able to assist you in enforcing the order if necessary (the police, friends or relatives, front-desk personnel or security guards). • If you and the abuser were living together and you will be staying in the same house or apartment, change your locks. • If harassing phone calls were part of the abuse, consider changing your phone number.
  50. 50. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: LEGAL PROCESS AFTER A RESTRAINING ORDER IS GRANTED STEPS TO PROTECT CHILDREN 50 • If you have children with the abuser and the court has ordered a limited or supervised visitation plan, be sure to provide copies of the restraining order to school or day care personnel, as well as anyone else who cares for your children or will be supervising visitation. • If your children are old enough to understand, explain the visitation plan to them. Tell them what the procedure will be if you are unable to pick them up and who will be coming to get them, so that they know that even in an emergency they should not go with the abuser without express permission.
  51. 51. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: LEGAL PROCESS AFTER A RESTRAINING ORDER IS GRANTED ENFORCING A RESTRAINING ORDER 51 • If the abuser violates any conditions of the restraining order that limit contact with you or with any other person, the police can immediately arrest the abuser. • If your order includes provisions regarding payment of fees or financial support, or provisions regarding parenting, you will need to seek enforcement in Family Court.
  52. 52. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: LEGAL PROCESS AFTER A RESTRAINING ORDER IS GRANTED SEEKING A DIVORCE AFTER DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 52 • A restraining order is often the first step in a divorce. In granting a request for a TRO or FRO, the court has the power to order some types of relief that are usually ordered in divorce cases, such as spousal support, child support, and custody and visitation orders. Be aware, however, that unless you also file a complaint for divorce, you will remain married. • If you have a TRO or FRO against your spouse and you wish to proceed to divorce, a family law attorney can help you determine the best way to go forward.
  53. 53. RESOURCES
  54. 54. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: RESOURCES INFORMATION AVAILABLE ONLINE • NJCBW County by County Guide to Services in New Jersey for Victims of Domestic Violence (includes extensive listings of emergency and transitional safe housing), available on the web at: • New Jersey Adult Protective Services (APS) Providers: A list of county adult protective service providers available on the web at: http://njcbw.org/gethelp_NJservices.html http://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/doas/home/adultpsp.html
  55. 55. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 101: RESOURCES ADDITIONAL RESOURCES AVAILABLE FOR HELP In addition to help available through emergency services, court interventions and domestic violence hotlines, the following resources provide help and information: • New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence: (609) 584-8107 • Center for Hope and Safety (New Jersey): (201) 944-9600 • Shelter Our Pets (New Jersey): For assistance with housing your pets if you are entering a domestic violence shelter: 973-506-9696
  56. 56. Bedminster • Freehold • Hackensack • Mount Laurel • Parsippany Do you have other questions? CALL US: (888) 888-0919 EMAIL US: info@weinbergerlawgroup.com
  57. 57. Bedminster • Freehold • Hackensack • Mount Laurel • Parsippany Court Plaza South-West Wing. 21 Main Street, Suite 354 I Hackensack, NJ 07601. Phone: (201) 642-2000 WeinbergerLawGroup.com (888) 888-0919 S C H E D UL E A F R E E CO NF ID E NT IA L CO NS ULTAT IO N CO N TAC T U S

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