Domestic violence is a significant issue in the US, including within the state of Arizona. The victims of domestic violence we encounter every day have often experienced physical abuse as well as emotional, financial, and even sexual abuse. Fortunately, the right attorney can help these victims become survivors by providing domestic violence legal services. Only once the cycle has been broken can you move toward the recovery and healing you deserve.
Understanding Domestic Violence in Arizona
Domestic violence is a pattern of controlling behaviors people use to attempt to maintain power and control over an intimate partner, family member, child, roommate, or another cohabitant, typically through violent action, coercion, or both. This behavior can often be somewhat invisible to the abused individual by design. In other words, abuse is often folded into other more normal behaviors and aspects of life by the abusive partner.
Domestic violence can take the form of physical, sexual, emotional, or financial abuse or can be as simple as a continuous exertion of control. However, these all have a significant negative effect on the overall quality of life of the victim, and they are all designed to increase the perpetrator’s control over their partner. Some examples of the different kinds of domestic violence are shared below to help you recognize behaviors that fall outside of acceptable conduct.
Physical abuse is often the most obvious form of domestic violence and includes but is not limited to the following:
- Hitting a person, their loved ones, their pets, or their children
- Destroying property
- Striking objects near the victim, an act usually intended to intimidate
- Denying the victim physical needs such as food, water, exercise, medications, or use of facilities
- Trapping or restraining a person in a room or building
While the most common example of sexual abuse is rape, it is important to understand the many definitions of rape and sexual abuse.
- Any sex that occurs when a person is unable to consent, whether they are drugged, drunk, asleep, unconscious, or otherwise incapacitated
- Non-consensual sex performed using coercion, force, or manipulation
- Lying about or refusing birth control and std protection.
- Threatening to “out” a partner
- Forcing a partner into sex work or involuntary sex with others
- Ridiculing someone’s body or sexuality
- Making false accusations of infidelity
- Participating in infidelity to make the other partner jealous
- Withholding sex to gain control of the partner
Emotional abuse is often much more difficult to recognize, both by the victim as well as by outside observers.
Here are some examples of emotional abuse:
- Repeatedly insulting the victim
- Intentionally trying to make someone believe they are insane or at fault for their own abuse (gas-lighting)
- Public humiliation
- Threatening to leave to win arguments
- Threatening to commit suicide to gain control
- Threatening to report the victim to the authorities to gain control
- Telling people the victim is crazy to instill doubt in their reports of abuse
- Consistently ignoring requests by the victim
Financial abuse is another nefarious form of abuse that can be difficult to identify by outsiders.
- Continuously controlling an adult dependent’s income
- Refusing to pay important bills to exert control
- Preventing someone from getting to work or maintaining a source of income
- Ruining the victim’s credit
- Stealing money from the victim
Other forms of domestic abuse are undertaken as a way to ensure the abuser remains in control of the victim.
These may include:
- Denying the victim independent communication with family, friends, or colleagues
- Checking mileage or calling to verify the location
- Invading privacy, such as searching through a phone, computer, or personal items
- Forcing dependency
- Using children as spies or leverage
How Common Is Domestic Violence in Arizona?
Arizona, like many states in the nation, experiences its share of domestic violence cases. According to the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, approximately 100 fatalities can be attributed to domestic violence disputes every year. Those killed can be anyone from the romantic partners of the abusers to well-meaning bystanders, first responders, and even people trying to help the victim. As you can see, domestic violence affects more than just the person being abused – it is a social hazard.
Additionally, every 44 minutes, one or more children witness domestic violence, and the problem often recurs when these children grow up. By adulthood, according to a 2017 study by the CDC, nearly 40% of people in Arizona had been victims of domestic abuse at some point in their life. One thing remains absolutely certain: Arizona has a domestic violence problem.
Signs and Symptoms of Domestic Violence
Abuse is often characterized by the abuser doing whatever they can to ensure the victim never reports the abuse. For this reason, abusive behaviors often follow patterns of intense bursts of abuse followed by large shows of affection to make amends – a tactic known as “love bombing.” So long as the victim remains in the relationship and remains silent about the abuse, the abuser can continue their behavior.
It is important to note during these times that this is a key indicator that domestic violence is deliberate and strategic, not just an impulse control or anger management problem. Even though it may seem like the abuser “just lost their temper,” this deliberate pattern of abuse indicates that the relationship is truly abusive. Unfortunately, it also makes abuse harder for others to recognize and easier for victims and abusers alike to justify.
There are signs that both victims and those around them can watch for to identify domestic violence. While signs can differ depending on the people involved and the situation, watch for these red flags in both abusers and victims.
If you notice these traits or behaviors in an intimate partner or someone else you know, you may be witnessing signs of abuse.
- Abusers regularly deny the reality of their abuse and minimize their actions. If someone is unwilling to hold themselves accountable for abusive actions, this is a warning sign.
- Abusers often blame external causes like stress, addiction, or their victims rather than taking accountability.
- Abusers are frequently extremely jealous of others getting attention from their partners.
- Abusers may constantly monitor the communications and location of their partners.
- Abusers often control their partner’s choices and undermine their independence.
- Abusers may engage in casual physical or verbal abuse towards the victim, children, friends, or pets – even though it may seem minor.
- The abusive partner may control all finances, leaving the other partner with no say,
- Abusers may deliberately humiliate their partner in public, then attempt to play the situation off as a prank or joke.
- Abusers may destroy their partner’s property
- Abusers often claim their partner is cheating or mentally ill.
- Abusers may admit to fantasizing about or having coerced sex.
If these traits or behaviors describe you or someone you love, you or they may be at risk of domestic violence.
- Victims may have unexplained physical injuries or wear seasonally inappropriate clothing to cover bruises.
- Victims may make excuses for their partner and/or blame themselves for negative actions by their partner.
- Victims may be constantly checking in with a partner or be very worried about pleasing them.
- Victims are often required to share personal passwords to email accounts and the like.
- Victims are frequently absent from school or work with no explanation or implausible causes.
- Victims may become isolated from their friends or family.
- Victims may frequently appear tired, nervous, anxious, or sick.
- The victim may be employed but seem to have no money.
- Victims may become very worried about the well-being of their pets or children for unexplained reasons.
How Arizona Attorneys Assist Victims of Domestic Violence
When you contact an attorney to assist you with your domestic violence case, they can help you from the initial report to the consequences for your abuser. If you are able to contact an attorney during a more peaceful time, they can help you to build a strategy before any criminal charges are filed. However, this can also be done after you have contacted the police.
The First Days
The process often begins with a 911 or other police call. Whether to file charges against your abuser is at the discretion of the detective, so you should give the detective a full accounting of what has happened. If you have had the opportunity to strategize ahead of time with your attorney, you can present the detective with evidence and pre-prepared statements, which will increase the likelihood that charges will be filed. Once charges are filed, they cannot be dropped in the state of Arizona.
After charges are filed, the prosecuting attorney will review the case and make a determination regarding whether to prosecute. If your abuser isn’t charged, you still have the right to speak to an attorney to get an explanation of the decision. At this time, you should ensure you are safe by requesting an emergency protective order with the court.
After the Arrest
If the defendant has been arrested, there will be a court hearing where a judge will determine whether it is appropriate for them to be released from jail while awaiting their trial. This decision will be made with your attorney’s input, as well as the input of the defense attorney.
At this juncture, your attorney will be able to help you contact the victim services unit and provide your testimony regarding the ongoing abuse. The more information you can provide, the better chance you have of a positive outcome. You and your attorney can also request to be informed if your abuser is released. At this time, the court will likely issue an emergency protective order to prevent continued abuse.
During the Hearing
You have the right to appear at the defendant’s court hearing, but you are not required to unless you receive a subpoena. Whether you appear or not, your attorney will be able to present your restitution information detailing the extent of the monetary damages you experienced. You’ll also submit a victim impact statement that will detail the events that have transpired against you.
If you are subpoenaed, your attorney will meet you and appear with you in court. Your attorney will also coordinate with a victim advocate who can help provide security on-site. Your attorney will also work with your victim advocate to help get you any resources that you need while the court proceedings are continuing, such as safe housing, food support, or other resources.
During or after the special hearing, the judge may make special orders to forfeit weapons, set a bond, or issue a more permanent restraining order that forbids your abuser from making contact with you or other victims. Your attorney can help you request these orders to ensure your safety throughout the hearing.
As you are settling into your newly freed life, your attorney will be there every step of the way to help connect you to any services that you require. Another key responsibility of your attorney is to keep you updated regarding the trial. They should consistently make themselves available to you to talk out strategy, accumulate additional evidence and documentation to strengthen your case, ensure that all deadlines for submission are met, and check that all legal protocols are followed.
Your attorney should also help you keep track of court dates and advise you regarding any other legal proceedings you require, especially those that involve disentangling your life from your abuser’s. This can include separating your bank accounts, terminating your old lease, establishing custody of your children, or beginning divorce proceedings.
Beyond Domestic Violence Legal Proceedings
Whether your abuser is facing a long prison sentence or will potentially re-enter your life after the trial, your attorney can help you ensure you stay safe during and after court hearings end. In light of all the challenges that you face, your attorney can connect you with networks of professionals who know what it’s like to go through the kind of trauma that a domestic violence event brings.
The first service you may need is an emergency shelter. Emergency shelter programs can provide you with a safe location away from your abuser. These are temporary housing programs, but they are kept extremely secure. When your abuser’s trial ends, you may still need housing assistance, and a skilled domestic violence attorney can help.
After emergency shelter, your attorney may recommend transitional housing programs for people whose immediate danger has been resolved but who do not have the resources to move into their own space. These programs often also offer counseling and support groups to help victims begin to process the physical and emotional injuries that they received at the hands of their abusers.
There are programs in Arizona that award grants and domestic violence legal assistance for abuse victims, particularly those who experienced abuse later in life. These programs can help to defray the cost of re-establishing yourself as an independent person and help you get back on your feet faster. Your attorney can help you learn more about these programs and assist you in becoming qualified.
Top Domestic Violence Attorneys in Arizona
An Arizona domestic violence attorney has a critical role to play in representing the victims of domestic violence and helping them overcome the legal barriers they face. Perhaps most importantly, consulting with a domestic violence attorney can help ensure you and your family remain safe while your abuser experiences the consequences they deserve.
At the Valley Law Group, our highly-rated domestic violence attorneys in Arizona help you move beyond this period in your life.
Jonathan Roeder, Founder/Director of Marketing of The Valley Law Group, is an Arizona native who has dedicated his life and career to the service of others. After graduating salutatorian of his high school class, Jonathan attended beautiful and prestigious Pepperdine University, where he majored in Political Science. During his tenure at Pepperdine University, his passion for helping others grew after securing a clinical position with a residential treatment center for juveniles with substance addictions. Post-graduation, Jonathan returned to Arizona and served as a residential manager for mentally and physically disabled homes.