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What constitutes domestic violence under Louisiana law?

What is the number one health concern in the country today? According to the U.S. Surgeon General, it's domestic violence. That might surprise a lot of readers in Louisiana, but all you have to do is look at the daily headlines to see that the issue is one worthy of concern.

Still, it may be that it's a topic that flies under the radar because of a lack of understanding about what can constitute domestic violence and what can be done to counter it. Here are some observations from the U.S. Department of Justice that might help provide readers with more context.

To begin with, let's consider the definition of domestic violence. The DOJ's Office on Violence Against Women offers that anytime a pattern of abusive behavior is apparent in a relationship, it deserves to be tagged as domestic violence. It can be behavior shown from one partner to another, parent to child or guardian to ward. And it can take many forms.

  • Physical abuse covers the gamut from pinching to punching or battering to burning. If medical care is needed and denied, that can be physical abuse. Forcing drugs or alcohol on another fits under this heading, too.

  • Sexual abuse is forced or coerced sexual behavior against another. Think marital or date rape. It can also be manifest in the sexual debasing of another, even if it comes in the form of a sexual joke.

  • Emotional abuse is easy to inflict. Sometimes it is unintentional but if there's a consistent pattern it could be construed as domestic violence. If you're being badmouthed or demeaned by an ex-spouse and it hurts relations with your children, it needs to be stopped.

  • Economic abuse occurs if one person is doing things to maintain financial control over another.

  • Psychological abuse involves one person instilling fear in another through intimidation, isolation or destruction of property. Blocking someone from working or going to school counts.

  • Stalking is any unwanted interaction between abuser and victim. Calling, writing notes, showing up unexpectedly or sending gifts, especially if contact has been clearly discouraged, could warrant criminal charges. This also includes online stalking.

You have a right to be safe from such activities. Working with a family law attorney is the way to be sure you're protected.

Source: FindLaw, "What is Domestic Violence?" Accessed Sept. 15, 2015

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