Defining Domestic Violence: Are You Living In An Abusive Home?

abusive homeThe idea that we may be living in an abusive home can be a tough reality to face. When we love the people who don’t treat us as well as they should, it can be easy to make excuses for them, or even blame ourselves for their behavior.

In fact, that’s one of the biggest red flags that you may be living in an abusive home – when your partner downplays the importance of the abuse, denies it, or blames you for it.

The problem is this: you are never responsible for someone else’s actions. Their choices are their own and no one else’s. No amount of willfulness or thoughtlessness on your part justifies anyone else hitting you, threatening you or your loved ones, or trying to control you.

If you’ve been thinking you might be living in an abusive home, here are some things to consider:

Physical Violence

Physical violence is probably the first thing that comes to mind for most of us when we think of domestic abuse. It can be anything from hitting you to attacking you with a weapon – and keep in mind that almost anything can be considered a weapon. Just because a hardcover book isn’t on a standard list of weapons doesn’t mean someone couldn’t do serious damage with one if they wanted to, which brings us to our next clue to look out for:

They Scare You

You should never be afraid of anyone you live with. If they look at you or behave in any way that scares you, don’t try to brush it off as paranoia. Trust your instincts and get out of there, if you can. If you can’t get out, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

They Threaten You and/or Your Loved Ones

Abusers don’t always have to physically hurt you or anyone else to be considered abusive. Threats can be just as powerful, if not more so, especially if they’re threatening your loved ones – and remember that’s not limited to humans. It can be just as terrifying to have someone threaten to hurt, or even kill, a beloved pet, and if that’s the case, you may be living in an abusive home.

They Control You

Again, abuse isn’t always physical. Oftentimes, it’s more about control than anything else. Sometimes they exercise that control with physical violence and/or threats, other times it’s by controlling the money for the house and/or controlling what you do, where you go, and whom you see.

Anyone who takes your money, makes you ask for money, and/or refuses to give you money for things you need while they’re going on spending sprees, is abusive. By the same token, cutting you off from friends and family is a classic abuse tactic. If they forbid you, or try to stop you, from seeing your friends and family members, they’re abusing you. They want you to be completely dependent on them for everything and that’s never a good situation for you to be in.

No matter your relation to your abuser, you have rights. If you think you may be living in an abusive home, contact a qualified family law attorney today to talk about your options.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for real estate cases, criminal cases, and all types of family law for more than 25 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests. 

What Are Legal Rights as a Victim of Domestic Violence?

domestic violenceEvery area of your life is affected if you are a victim of domestic violence. You should be aware of the legal rights you have as a domestic violence victim. The State of Illinois offers legal remedies based on state law, including, but not limited to, temporary restraining orders, orders of protection, charges for parental kidnapping, as well as other crimes. Included in this post are some topics that will assist you as you regain your safety, confidence and rebuild your life.

Temporary Restraining Orders and Orders of Protection

A Temporary Restraining Order is a temporary order issued by the Court that prohibits an individual from carrying out a particular action, such as approaching or contacting a specific person. These orders are often granted in the context of a divorce or parental allocation proceeding as a form of temporary relief. The Court can prohibit a party from striking or interfering with the personal liberty of the other party, from removing a child from the State and/or from transferring, liquidating or concealing marital property (such as bank accounts, credit cards, etc.).

An Order For Protection is a court order that is designed to protect a victim from domestic violence. Anyone in a family or household can ask the court for an Order For Protection. Because court procedures vary, local court rules need to be consulted. The family or household members can be married, divorced, parents, children and persons who are blood relatives, as well as people who live together or have lived together. Additionally, people who have never lived together may also request an order if they have a child together, have been involved in a significant romantic or sexual relationship.

Steps for Obtaining an Order of Protection

Visit a local court – take identification with you and identifying information, such as a photo, of the abuser. Fill out a petition by providing a description of the most recent incident of the abuse by including specific details. A judge will then review the petition and will decide whether or not to issue the emergency order and will then set a date for the court hearing. Next, you will be given papers stating the date and time of your court hearing.

Kidnapping by a Parent

Often times, the other parent will take children without consent. In order to prepare for this situation, you may ask a judge to issue an emergency order or a temporary restraining order (also explained above). To obtain this order, you may need to prove that the children are in danger or that the other parent is deliberately concealing the child from you. Another option is to ask the judge to include in a temporary order that the other parent cannot take the children out of the state without consent, or that the other parent may have only supervised parenting time. Be advised that you should explain your situation to a lawyer and get advice on which option is best for your family as this issue, in particular, is heavily intertwined with Illinois statutes on parental allocation of responsibilities, divorce and parenting time interference.

Protection in Your Workplace

Illinois state law provides employment protection for domestic violence victims who need to take time off from work to handle issues related to domestic violence. This includes any household member who is a victim of domestic violence. You may take unpaid leave from work to address domestic or sexual violence. An employer needs at least a forty-eight hour advance notice of your intention to take time off and a total of twelve work weeks of leave can be used during any twelve-month period. Additionally, the twelve weeks can be taken at different times or as a reduction in a regular schedule.

Other Crimes

If an abuser has committed a crime, the police can be called to arrest

him/her for a crime. Remember that even if you do have an order of protection, you must still report the offender to the police if you believe that person has committed a crime against you and/or if they violated the Order of Protection.

Some Instances of Crimes by an Abuser – WomensLaw.org*

  • Unlawful visitation or parenting time interference
  • Child abduction
  • Kidnapping
  • Unlawful restraint
  • Assault
  • Aggravated assault
  • Battery
  • Domestic battery
  • Aggravated domestic battery
  • Intimidation
  • Stalking
  • Cyberstalking
  • Violation of an order of protection
  • Criminal trespass to real property
  • Unlawful use or possession of weapons
  • Unlawful possession of firearms and firearm ammunition
  • Harassment by telephone
  • Harassment through electronic communications

If you believe you are a victim of domestic violence, do not hesitate to contact our attorneys at Sherer Law Offices. We understand your situation and have the legal knowledge to best guide you through your situation.

* About WomensLaw.org
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