Domestic violence is taken more seriously than it was in the past, with more protections available for abuse victims. However, because of the complex nature of family and household dynamics, it is understandable if you are not sure that what’s happening to you is abuse.
West Virginia law states that abuse or domestic violence is present when one or more of the following acts occur:
- Attempting to cause or causing physical harm
- Committing sexual assault or sexual abuse
- Creating fear of physical harm
- Holding someone against their will
- Placing someone in reasonable apprehension of physical harm
Abuse does not require the use of dangerous or deadly weapons. The physical harm can be caused by anything. For example, your spouse may throw a plate at you. A plate is not a dangerous weapon, but if it strikes you in the face, this is abuse.
The abuse is not always physical
There are many ways someone can cause you to fear physical harm. Constant harassment or stalking can make you afraid that the person’s actions may escalate to physical harm.
Psychological abuse, such as threatening statements, can also cause a fear of physical harm. The statements may be overt, such as the person telling you they are going to kill you or break your neck, or more subtle, like implying that you won’t be around much longer.
Getting a professional opinion can help
West Virginia residents who are abused by a household member can petition for a protective order. A protective order can be obtained against a family member, spouse or ex-spouse, someone you were sexually intimate with or someone you share a child with.
It is true that there are gray areas when it comes to abuse and domestic violence. Everyone’s situation is unique and meeting the legal standard for a protective order depends on the specific facts of your case.
Once you’ve made the difficult choice to seek a protective order against someone, it can help to talk with an experienced attorney, who can provide advice on your chances of success.