A Brief History And Overview Of Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence Overview

Legally, the definition of domestic violence has undergone a vast change over the years. In the 19th century, the term didn’t even exist. It wasn’t until the 20th century that federal and state law defined and banned forms of domestic abuse against a number of designated victim groups. As more research is done and more attention brought to domestic abuse cases, the country has responded by creating laws to help protect vulnerable groups and provide resources to help them. Here is a brief guide to how domestic abuse laws have evolved over the years and what the definitions and laws are now.

A History Of Ignoring Abuse

Prior to the mid-19th century, American law implicitly accepted or ignored when a husband committed violence against his wife. 1850 saw the first American state pass a law against a husband beating his wife, with the rest of the states following suit over the following decades. While police intervention became more common in the early to mid-20th century, arrests and convictions were often rare. Major change to the laws came with the Women’s Movement in the 1970s. As a result, legislative bodies began to modernize their definitions, with the term “domestic violence” first being used in 1973. 

An Evolving Definition

While many people might think of domestic violence as a husband physically abusing his wife, our evolving understanding of the topic means that this definition has expanded. Although abuse does commonly occur between partners in an intimate relationship, the term can also describe abuse by a parent towards a child or between siblings. And while violence is certainly a type of abuse, other things like sexual abuse and emotional abuse are now recognized as domestic abuse behaviors. It also transcends gender and sexual orientation. Studies now recognize that partners in same-sex relationships see domestic abuse, and there are statistics that show that men can also be victims. 

The Laws

There are now a number of federal laws that address domestic abuse. Congress has passed three Violence Against Women Acts in 1994, 2000, and 2005 to create programs and resources for victims and punish perpetrators of domestic abuse and violence. Other acts created new programs to help reduce domestic abuse through training and education, and the Lautenberg Amendment was passed to keep guns out of the hands of convicted domestic abusers. In addition, each of the 50 states have drafted and passed their own version of these laws to punish domestic abusers and protect vulnerable populations. On the civil side, many states now have laws that allow victims to file restraining or protection orders against their abuser. These are not exclusive, either; you can file for a civil protective or restraining order while also seeking criminal prosecution.

Seek Legal Help

Although your first call should be to authorities, seeking the services of an attorney can also help protect you. An attorney can help you quickly file a restraining or protection order on the civil side while you wait for the police and prosecutors to investigate the case. In addition, many attorneys can give you good advice on how to keep you and your family safe during the process and help with setting up an emergency escape plan.

Contact A Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Domestic Violence Situation Today

Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries from domestic abuse in New Jersey? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for someone to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Rudnick, Addonizio, Pappa & Casazza represent clients injured in domestic abuse situations in Hazlet, Middletown, Red Bank, Matawan and throughout New Jersey. Call 866-567-0135 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at in East Brunswick at 197 State Route 18 South Suite 3000, East Brunswick, NJ 08816, and one at Park Village, 25 Village Court Highway #35, Hazlet, NJ 07730.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.