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Judge John E. Turner (Ret.)

Teaching Washington residents about domestic violence

Domestic violence is defined as any act of abuse committed by one family member against another. Examples of domestic violence include one spouse hitting another or a parent hitting a child. The term domestic may apply to those who are just dating as opposed to married or otherwise living together, and it may also apply to either a heterosexual or homosexual couple.

While serious crimes such as rape or murder are examples of domestic abuse, other actions that may not seem as severe may also apply. For instance, stalking, pushing or shoving may be considered abuse, and it is possible for anyone to either be a victim of or perpetrator of such a crime. The law does acknowledge that an individual does not have to suffer physical injuries to be an abuse victim.

Emotional abuse may occur when an abuser lowers the self-esteem or tries to reduce the perceived self-worth of the victim. Financial abuse occurs when a victim is forced to be fiscally reliant on his or her partner. Individuals who are charged with domestic abuse may face longer sentences for their crimes. This is because an abuser may try to manipulate the victim, and special protections for that person or other potential targets may be part of a sentence.

Those who may have been victims of spousal abuse may wish to consult with an attorney. Legal counsel may help an individual take action such as getting a restraining order against the abuser. If the victim and abuser have kids together, it may be possible to ask that the abuser lose his or her parental rights. It may also be possible to ask that interactions between the abuser and his or her children are supervised or limited to protect their best interests.

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