Domestic violence or abuse under penal code 273.5 is a common problem. Though victims don’t normally come out and publicly speak about it, it happens every day. In fact, in a study conducted by United Nations, 22% of women have experienced domestic violence in her lifetime. This is alarmingly high and it has to stop. Domestic violence laws are implemented to help the victims and empower them to report their abusers. Reporting the abusers will help stop the rising numbers of victims of domestic abuse and violence.
What qualifies as domestic abuse?
Any form of physical, verbal, emotional, economic or sexual abuse from your intimate partner to you or your children (if any) is punishable under the Violence Against Women Act or VAWA. This is the law implemented in 1994 in response to issues regarding domestic violence and abuse. In 2000 VAWA was expanded in order to cover crimes regarding dating violence and stalking. Immigrant victims were also given visas that allow them to stay in the US. Further steps to help the victims were also implemented. In 2013, housing protection and federally subsidized housing were also expanded to provide the much needed help for victims.
People in abusive relationships don’t often realize that they are being abused. They are often so “in love” that they make excuses for when they are violated by their spouse or intimate partners. Often, they only report domestic abuse and violence when the harm done to them is so severe that they have to seek medical help. But that does not have to be the case.
What should you do if you are a victim of domestic abuse and violence?
The first step is to report the abuse to local authorities. It is the local authorities who can give you the immediate help you may need. Local District Attorneys will refer the case to United States Attorneys Office if it is applicable for federal prosecution.
Who can I call for help?
Local authorities will be the first to be able to give you assistance in cases of emergency. The National Domestic Violence Hotline can also refer you to other local community-organized service provider that can help you with your immediate need. They also provide critical information you may need as well as safety planning and crisis intervention.
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence or NCADV is one of the many non-government organizations or NGOs that helps victims of domestic violence and abuse. Other than pushing for policy changes, they also have programs like The Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery Program where they provide free cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries to victims who cannot afford it. The surgeries are to help correct physical damages and erase scars left by the abusers.
Domestic abuse and violence is everywhere and it can happen to anyone. You are not alone. If you know anyone who might be a victim, help that person. Know that you can do something about it and you are protected through the domestic violence laws.