Domestic Violence: The Basics

Under New York Social Services Law § 459-A, domestic violence occurs when the abuser enacts violence on a person or their child that they have an intimate relationship with and their actions cause physical or emotional harm. Domestic violence includes a host of criminal offenses, including but not limited to:

  • Harassment or aggravated harassment
  • Sexual misconduct, forcible touching, or sexual abuse
  • Stalking
  • Criminal mischief
  • Menacing
  • Reckless endangerment
  • Kidnapping
  • Assault or attempted assault
  • Attempted murder
  • Strangulation
  • Coercion

According to CDC research, about 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner. Domestic violence can occur between people who are:

  • Legally married or divorced
  • Parents of the same child, including an adopted child
  • Related by marriage (i.e. in-laws)
  • Related by blood (i.e. siblings, parents)
  • Live together or have lived together previously
  • Dating or have dated in the past

Safety Tips for Victims/Survivors

To protect themselves from an abuser, victims/survivors can take the following actions, which we will discuss in detail later:

  • Create a safety plan
  • File for a protective order

If you are a victim/survivor of domestic violence and in immediate danger, please call 911. If you are not presently in danger, you can get help ensuring your safety from the:

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH), reach out online, by calling 1(800) 799-7233 or texting 88788
  • NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, reach out online
  • NYS Domestic and Sexual Assault Hotline, reach out by calling (800) 942-6906 or texting (844) 997-2121
  • Our team at Levi Divorce & Family Law Attorneys, reach out online or by calling (718) 215-0121

Your communication with any of these organizations is entirely confidential and protected.

Create a Safety Plan

A safety plan outlines the steps you can take to help lower the risks of being hurt by your abuser. This plan can include information about safety options at your job, home, child’s school, and other locations. To create a safety plan, you can use the NDVH’s interactive creation tool. In drafting your plan, you will be asked to consider:

  • Sharing your plan with someone you trust
  • Creating a code word or phrase that you can text a friend, family member, or neighbor in the event you need help
  • Finding out where you can go if you don’t feel safe at home
  • Thinking about what you will need to grab if you need to leave quickly (like ID cards, cash, medication, comfort items, etc.)
  • Mapping out new routes you can take to work or class want to avoid running into your abuser
  • Filing to get a protective order

File for a Protective Order

There are two types of protective orders in New York:

  • A temporary ex parte order of protection
  • A final order of protection

If you report abuse to the police, they can take you to file for a protective order. You can also go to your local family court and file yourself. In either instance, a judge will decide if orders are needed. Temporary orders will last until the court hearing. Final protective orders are issued:

  • “On consent,” if the matter is settled out of court and the abuser consents to orders being placed against them. In these cases, the abuser may not admit to any wrongdoings
  • After a hearing, where both parties can present evidence and give testimonies

Someone I Know Is Being Abused. What Can I Do?

If you know someone is being abused, you likely want to help them leave the harmful situation. While you may be inclined to call 911, according to an article by the National Domestic Violence Hotline calling the police may not always be the best course of action, because:

  • Having the police show up may compromise their safety even more
  • Talking honestly with the police may not be possible
  • Calling may disrupt their safety plan

If you want to help someone you believe is in danger, talk with them about their safety plan and ask how you can help. You may also consider:

  • Keeping a log of abuse you witness, as this can be used later as evidence
  • Knocking on their door and asking to borrow something, while still considering your own safety
  • Contacting an abuse hotline or local agency

Recognizing Signs of Domestic Violence

Friends, family members, coworkers, and others can look for common signs of domestic violence in people they know. You may notice the following behaviors enacted by abusive individuals:

  • Acting unusually jealous of other relationships
  • Limiting the time their partner spends away from them
  • Controlling who their partner spends time with outside or inside the home
  • Insulting or demeaning their partner
  • Controlling where their partner works, how they spend their money, or if they attend school/places outside of the home
  • Threatening their partner physically, mentally, or emotionally (with weapons, violent looks, or words)
  • Destroying their partner’s personal property

You may notice the following behaviors in victims/survivors of domestic violence:

  • Withdrawing from others (physically and emotionally)
  • No longer engaging in activities they enjoy
  • Being late for, or canceling, appointments or meetings repeatedly
  • Becoming emotionally reserved or secretive
  • Becoming anxious around, or when they are away from, their abuser

Contact Our Experienced Attorneys

At Levi Divorce & Family Law Attorneys, we can help victims/survivors file for protective orders and connect with other advocates for emergency housing, counseling, and/or court accompaniments. We can help parents protect their children from abusive parents.

Contact our domestic violence attorneys today via our online contact form or by calling (718) 215-0121.