Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Virginia laws on domestic violence

Domestic violence in Virginia is categorized under “family abuse”. Family abuse is any act which involves violence, force, threat that results in bodily injury or places a person in reasonable apprehension of death, sexual assault, or bodily injury committed by a person’s family or household member. Family or household member includes your spouse (even if they do not live with you), former spouse, anyone you have a child with, anyone you live with or have lived with in the past 12 months.

What Actions Can I Take?

In cases of domestic violence, there are both criminal and civil remedies available.

Criminally, the person who committed an assault and battery can be arrested without a warrant if police believe there is probable cause. You can also file for an arrest warrant by appearing before a magistrate, who can issue a warrant for the arrest.

Alternatively, you can request a protective order. Instead of arresting the person, a protective order prohibits the abusing person from contacting you or coming to your home. If the abuser violates the protective order, he or she can be charged with violating such order and be subject to jail time. Depending on your circumstances, you may want to consider an Emergency Protective Order, a Preliminary Protective Order, or a two year Protective Order. Protective orders can also be issued for stalking.

Virginia also provides victims of domestic violence who were physically injured compensation for losses, including in earnings, medical expenses, health counseling, and moving expenses.

Additional Resources

Facing your abuser and taking action when you have been a victim of domestic violence can be a challenging process. There are many resources available for domestic violence victims in Northern Virginia that you can turn to, including:

Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-838-8238

Crime Victim Assistance: 1-888-887-3418

Legal Services of Northern Virginia: 703-778-6800

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