The People’s Lawyer

What constitutes domestic violence in West Virginia?

On Behalf of | Dec 19, 2023 | Family Protection Orders

Domestic violence is a serious offense affecting many people in West Virginia. But what constitutes it? When can you report a domestic violence case?

Here is what to know:

What is domestic violence?

In West Virginia, domestic violence is when a family or household member tries to physically harm you (with or without a weapon), physically harms you, intentionally or recklessly (with or without a weapon), makes you afraid that they will physically harm you (your fear should be reasonable) or makes you afraid of physical harm by harassment, stalking, psychological abuse or threatening acts.

Other acts that may constitute domestic violence include a family member sexually assaulting or abusing you, kidnapping you or holding you against your will.

Who is a family member? 

A family or household member in this context is a spouse or ex-spouse, someone you live or lived with as “your spouse,” someone who lived in the same household as you, an intimate partner, someone you are dating or used to date and someone you share a child with.

Other people considered a family or household member include a parent/step-parent, sibling/step-sibling/half-sibling, in-laws, child/step-child, grandparent/step-grandparent, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew and first or second cousin.

Note that you can still file a domestic violence case if you are a family/household member of someone related to the abuser. For example, if your boyfriend’s step-father physically harms you or the brother of someone you lived with sexually assaults you.

Why are these definitions important?

Your case should meet the above-discussed definitions to get a protective order against the abuser. Therefore, you may be ineligible to get a protective order against a friend who threatens you if you’ve never lived with them – you will need to consider other options.

With legal help the court can grant you a family protective order if your case meets these requirements.