Domestic and family violence is a pattern of assaultive and controlling behaviors, including physical, sexual, and psychological attacks against the victim. This information is provided to help those who have been affected by domestic violence and are in need of helpful information.
Hitting, choking, kicking, assaults with weapons, shoving, scratching, biting, unwanted sexual contact, threats of violence, and destruction of property are all examples of assaultive behavior that is criminal in nature and chargeable in court.
Other forms of domestic violence that are not always criminal conduct but are still controlling behaviors, include the following: degrading comments, interrogating children, suicide or threats of suicide, jealousy, controlling family resources (such as time, money, food, clothing, shelter, and activities.)
There are many victims in a single domestic violence incident. Children, neighbors, even your employer suffer when someone they know is victimized. Remember, as your behavior changes to adapt to an adverse situation, it will affect everyone around you. A victim will often believe the abusive behavior will become less frequent or even stop if the aggressor apologizes. Not always will this be the case. We understand everyone has good qualities, but caution victims to get assistance before returning to someone who has been aggressive in the past.
What should I do?
If you know someone that is a victim or you yourself are a victim, it is important to get help. There are five steps to take to get help.
- Have your own plan. Keep a personal "survival kit" at a separate location. Include such items as medication, clothing, and legal documents.
- Leave quickly! Do not stay around and argue or fight.
- Tell someone that can help such as a friend, family member, clergy member or the police.
- Follow through with your actions. You and the aggressor will need assistance working things out.
- Contact a support group, a shelter, legal aid, a hotline, or an advocacy service such as HOPE House at 816.461.HOPE (4673)
What can I expect from the police?
The police will arrest the primary aggressor in a domestic violence situation. The aggressor will be taken to the local detention facility, not a prison.
They are then required to post a bond to assure their appearance in court at a later date and are then released. Do not feel badly about the subject being arrested, as this is often the first step in requiring a subject to get help. You are not required to press charges in domestic violence situations; the police can pursue the charges if necessary. Remember, the police are there to put an end to any criminal conduct that is taking place and to assist the victim in locating a safe place to stay.
What will happen in court?
First, you will meet with a representative from a support organization and answer several questions concerning the abuse.
Second, they will make a recommendation to the prosecutor on how to continue with the case:
- Dismissal of charges or,
- Diversion program (court ordered counseling) or,
Third, the prosecutor has the final decision on whether to pursue charges. If a trial is scheduled, you will only be asked to tell the truth about what you remember happening.
Finally, a judge will make a ruling when the trial ends and impose requirements the subject may have to meet.
What is a Full Order of Protection and how do I obtain one?
A Full Order of Prosecution is a court order issued by a judge designed to make it illegal for the aggressor to continue committing specific acts. IT IS NOT A GUARANTEE OF SAFETY. You still must protect yourself and report violence to the police. Once served, the protection order allows the police to arrest the aggressor if she or he commits any of the acts listed on the order. It may also be necessary for the aggressor to still be at the scene for the police to make an arrest. A victim from Lee's Summit should respond to the Jackson County Courthouse in Independence, Missouri, at 306 W. Kansas to obtain a full order of protection. The number to contact the Adult Abuse Office is 816.881.4400.
Filing for an Order:
- You do not need to pay a filing fee
- You do not need an attorney
- You do need the abuser's full name and date of birth.
- You do need an accurate location where the abuser can be served (home or work).
- If possible, have the abuser's social security number and physical description. A license number and vehicle description of the abuser's vehicle is also helpful.
- An Order may contain the following provisions:
- Abuser cannot abuse, threaten, or harass you.
- Abuser must temporarily pay child support and award temporary custody of children to you.
- Forbid abuser from selling or giving away property.
- Order abuser to return certain property.
When an attack occurs, only you can decide what to do. No one plan will work every time, and whatever you do, don't second guess your actions. You are not alone and there are many ways of getting assistance.