1. What is domestic violence?
The law defines domestic violence as a certain kinds of abuse
directed toward a spouse or former spouse, cohabitant or former
cohabitant, or a person with whom the abuser has had a "dating
engagement relationship" or with whom the abuser has had a
child, or a person related to the abuser by the blood or
marriage. It is a type of violence that cuts across all
cultures, ethnic backgrounds, education levels, and income
brackets. It impacts homosexuals as often as heterosexuals. It
occurs among teenagers as well as senior citizens, and men as
well as women.
Domestic violence is behavior driven by a need to control. It
can range from threats, annoying telephone calls and stalking
(such as following the victim to and from work, and threatening
the victim), to unwanted sexual touching and hitting. It also
can be defined as one spouse destroying the other's personal
2. How can the law help me if I'm battered?
If you are in immediate danger, call 911. If you have children,
they, too, could be at risk. When the police arrive, explain
what happened. The officers can contact an on-call judicial
officer and issue you an Emergency Protective Order
on the spot. This legally prohibits the batterer from coming
within a certain distance of you. It also may grant you
temporary custody of your children. To obtain an EPO, there must
be an "immediate and present" danger that you and/or your child
will be abducted by a relative. The EPO will remain in effect
for five court days or seven calendar days.
To obtain a longer-term restraining order, you must file for a
Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). Go to your
local family law or superior court and request an application
for a TRO. You also can request that a local law enforcement
agency officially notify -- "serve" -- the order on -- the
batterer free of charge. The TRO will go into effect as soon as
it has been signed by the judge and personally delivered to the
batterer. You, however, cannot be the one who officially serves
the order; a law enforcement officer or other adult (not named
in the order) must serve it.
After filing for the TRO, you must return to court on the date
shown on the court papers for a hearing. At that hearing, you
may request that TRO be made "permanent," which means that it
will be good for up to three years and can be renewed. Such
restraining orders usually require the batterer to stay at least
100 yards -- the length of a football filed - away from you and
have no contact with you.
For local assistance contact:
Casa de Esperanza
Tel: (530) 674-2040
3. Whom else can I call for help and support?
Call the National Domestic Violence
Hotline at 1-8000799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233 or, for TTY,
1-800-787-3234). Whoever answers the phone can help
you deal with your situation, and can refer you to shelters,
counseling, and other assistance available in you area.
You are not alone. There are more than 4 millions victims of
domestic violence each year. One intimate partner in three will
experience at least one physical assault during his or her
lifetime. In addition, there are growing numbers of elderly
parents who are verbally or physically abused by their adult
children. It is not your fault. Help is available.
In California alone, there are dozens of local assistance
programs. You may be able to get free counseling for your
children as well as yourself. You may even be able to recoup
wages lost while recovering injuries by a spouse or
partner. California's Crime Victim Compensation Program --
administered by the State Board of Control's Victims of Crime
Program -- provides such financial help to crime victims who
meet certain criteria. Other losses that may be reimbursed by
the program include the cost of medical and dental work, mental
health counseling, financial support, a funeral and burial, and
Call the Victims Resource Center
toll-free at 1-800-VICTIMS(842-8467) or the
Victims of Crime Program at 1-800-777-9229
for more information.