Domestic violence statistics are shocking. In the United States, 10 million women and men per year are victims of physical abuse from a partner. That’s roughly 20 violent incidents every minute. And it’s unacceptable; there is no place in our society for domestic violence.
In North Carolina, the numbers are particularly alarming. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in three women in North Carolina will experience abuse from their partner, including violations like stalking.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, you must seek help, including taking legal action. If there are children involved, the stakes are even higher. This article will outline your options and provide you with the information to get the help you need.
Domestic Violence Defined
Domestic violence goes beyond physically striking a partner or child with whom there is a personal relationship. Domestic violence can also include controlling and manipulative behavior, or an attempt to cause an injury, or threatening harm. These situations can escalate, resulting in bodily harm as well as mental and emotional suffering.
If you have experienced one or more of the following, you are a victim of domestic violence:
- Physical violence
- Sexual violence
- Emotional or psychological abuse
- Financial abuse (restricting access to assets)
Options for Domestic Violence Victims
The highest priority is to ensure your immediate safety. There are national hotlines you can reach out to, including the National Domestic Violence Hotline. There are also resources in North Carolina, such as the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence. This local organization provides a 24-hour hotline, emergency shelter, and counseling.
As outlined below, we also recommend taking proactive legal measures to protect yourself from imminent or further harm.
Domestic Violence Protective Order
Also known as a DVPO for short, a Domestic Violence Protective Order is issued to require the abuser to avoid any direct or indirect contact with you. Once issued, the abuser must stay away from you entirely. Violating the order can result in an immediate arrest.
This option can require your abuser to vacate a shared home, provide for temporary custody of your children, and give you possession of a shared pet. It will also legally restrict your abuser from owning or purchasing a firearm.
There are few restrictions for filing a DVPO, and you do not necessarily need an attorney to file one for you. You can access the forms directly from the North Carolina Judicial Branch, though it can be helpful to get guidance from a domestic violence lawyer or an agency.
Though there are few restrictions, it is essential to know what they are:
- Current North Carolina law does not recognize domestic violence against same-sex partners. This provision is unfortunate and not in agreement with our stand. However, discuss other options with your domestic violence attorney if you are in this situation.
- If the abuse stems from a party not recognized as having a “qualifying” relationship, you will not be able to file for a DVPO, but you can file an alternative order, called a “50C Order.” An example of a non-qualifying relationship would be a one-time sexual assault incident.
Again, you still have options to protect yourself further. An experienced domestic violence lawyer will be able to advise you after knowing the specifics of your situation.
It is important to note that a DVPO will not last indefinitely, though it can be renewed. The maximum amount of time it will be effective is for one year, so, depending on your situation, you may also need to seek a more permanent solution.
If the danger to you or a minor child is immediate, you can seek emergency relief through the court in an ex parte hearing (Latin for “one party). These hearings are expedited to protect you and your child from further harm. The court can enter orders that eliminate or restrict contact from the abusing party. Further, emergency relief can be issued even before an ex parte hearing when there is a fear of immediate injury.
For example, if the court believes that it is in the best interest for the child to have some contact with a parent, even though there is abuse, there could be conditions to visitation, which could include limited contact, supervised visits, and restrictions about the time and location of meetings with the child.
Emergency relief is also a temporary measure since technically, the court has only heard one side of the argument. However, this option can grant emergency child custody while a more permanent solution is devised.
McKnight Law is Here to Help End the Threat of Domestic Violence
Everyone deserves a safe and healthy relationship. If you are in a situation where your partner has made that impossible, you must protect yourself as well as your loved ones. If you are looking for a “domestic violence lawyer near me,” call us at (919) 413-7002 to speak with one of our experienced and compassionate domestic violence lawyers. You can also contact us via our online form. We can work with you to take immediate action to ensure your safety and discuss longer-term plans to eliminate the threat you are currently facing.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.