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Non-Physical Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is much more than physical violence.  Domestic violence is riddled with stereotypes.

When we think about domestic violence, we often focus on the violence which may consist of a husband lashing out at his wife, a girlfriend throwing a blender at her boyfriend, one spouse hitting the other with a baseball bat and other types of physical violence.  These examples are more in line with stereotypical abusers.

Domestic violence is also sexual coercion; financial control; verbal abuse; isolation from friends, family, and co-workers; denigration; humiliation; controlling decisions; stifling independence; monitoring whereabouts and more.   These are actions that are all about power and control.

Many Perpetrators of Domestic Violence Never Use Physical Violence

A string of controlling and domineering actions depletes a partner’s ability to develop individually; to improve education, financial independence, professional advancement or have much of a friend or support network. The abuser twists the partner’s mind, plays games and is confusing.  The abuser breaks promises, switches tactics, makes excuses and blames the partner.  One by one, a partner’s options for personal growth and independence are taken away or minimized – never once by using physical force.

There is public outrage about physical violence. Non-physical power and over-controlling abuse are invisible. There is less public understanding about non-physical domestic violence.  This lack of understanding means the victim cannot define what is happening.

People who experience a systematic pattern of psychological abuse and control suffer from psychological wounds that can be longer-lasting than the wounds from physical violence.  Commonly, where the dynamic of the relationship is about power and control without violence, there is no honeymoon period of remorse and renewed promises. Instead, there is a consistent effort at total domination.

Domestic Violence Protective Orders

North Carolina law defines civil domestic violence as any instance where a person with whom you have had a personal relationship takes any of the below actions against you or a minor child:

  • Causes or attempts to cause bodily injury, or
  • Places you or your family members in fear of imminent serious bodily harm, or
  • Continues to harass you to the point of substantial emotional distress, or
  • Commits rape or sexual offenses.

A victim may obtain a Domestic Violence Protective Order against a partner who commits any act of domestic violence – physical or non-physical.  A Domestic Violence Protective Order is a CIVIL remedy, although there may be related criminal penalties that go hand-in-hand with domestic violence.

“Harassment” for the purpose of obtaining a Protective Order, means: “knowing conduct, including written or printed communication or transmission, telephone, cellular, or other wireless telephonic communication, facsimile transmission, pager messages or transmissions, answering machine or voice mail messages or transmissions, and electronic mail messages or other computerized or electronic transmissions directed at a specific person that torments, terrorizes, or terrifies that person and that serves no legitimate purpose such that a reasonable person in the victim’s circumstances would feel harassed; and that the victim suffer significant mental suffering or distress that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.”

In our age of electronics and technology, a perpetrator can commit acts of domestic violation by cyber harassment.  A partner can be monitored electronically; harassed online through social media or via email or other means.  North Carolina has additional remedies on the criminal law side for cyberstalking and revenge porn.

Protecting Against All Violence

Acts of non-physical abuse are just as dangerous and damaging as physical violence — sometimes even more so.  Victims may feel like they have no options if they’re suffering from non-physical domestic violence, but they need protection all the same.

For more information on stalking, cyberstalking and family law, contact the attorneys at Parker Bryan Family Law today. We represent anyone who has been a victim of domestic violence (physical and otherwise) and needs help getting relief. Call us today for a consultation.