General Crime

Domestic Violence Laws, California

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What is domestic violence?

In general when people talk about domestic violence, this includes a wide range of behaviors, from verbal abuse to physical violence. Domestic violence is when one person tries to take control over another by using acts of intimidation, threats, sexual assault, stalking, controlling money or bank accounts, and other violent behaviors. It can be dangerous when one person tries to control others this way. This is what we usually mean by domestic violence, and it frequently gets worse without help.

What are the warning signs of domestic violence?

Does your partner:
• Insult you in public and private?
• Check up on where you’ve been and whom you’ve talked to?
• Put down your friends and family?
• Tell you jealousy is a sign of love?
• Blame you for the abuse?
• Limit where you go and what you do?
• Try to control your money?
• Destroy your things?
• Threaten to hurt you, your family, or pets?
• Make you have sex in ways or at times that are uncomfortable to you?
• Touch you in ways that hurt or scare you?
• Tell you your fears are not important?


If any of these things happen to you, you might be in danger. Think about getting some help, and talk to someone who will understand and can help you with a safety plan.

What is the legal definition of domestic violence?
Not all behaviors used to gain power and control over you are illegal. For example, calling you names, insulting you, putting down your friends, and signs of jealousy are behaviors that abusers use to keep control but are not against the law.

From a legal point of view, the domestic violence behaviors that are considered in applying for a Protection Order are very specific. According to the laws that govern the Protection Order, domestic violence is defined as:
• Threatening to physically harm you
• Assaulting you
• Stalking you

The Protection Order is a tool that can help keep you safe from these types of acts. To qualify for a Protection Order the courts need to follow the legal definition when making a decision on whether or not to give you a Protection Order.

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