Every household has some form of balance of power among its members. Most typically, parents are at the top of the hierarchy, with the children probably maintaining their own pecking order based on age or personality type. Bickering and even shouting matches can be part of the normal state of affairs — until psychological control goes too far. New Jersey law can view certain acts as domestic abuse, even without any form of physical contact.
New Jersey Law Broadly Defines Domestic Violence
Under the law, N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19 defines domestic violence by listing many vicious physical acts ranging from criminal mischief to homicide, but it also includes non-physical threats, including the following:
- Terroristic threats
Clearly, the law recognizes that regular verbal threats of violence or other non-physical acts can be the first steps that lead to harmful physical acts. Just as important, however, is the fact that any type of non-physical threat can victimize its target. Fearful victims lose their sense of personal power. Where they once lived normal lives, they now constantly look over their shoulders, waiting for physical violence that may or may not come.
Even though people who are subjected to regular verbal abuse may recognize that their lives are not normal, they often do not understand that they have legal rights to help stop this type of abuse. When a family law attorney with domestic violence experience is at their side, they can level the balance of power to regain their personal sense of self-respect and control over their lives.
Not All Threats Constitute Domestic Violence
All people argue from time to time, and family members may have a greater propensity to speak more frankly with each other than they would in other social situations. In other words, one might expect to hear more foul language, nasty accusations and veiled threats among people who know each other very well.
These arguments do not typically represent domestic violence from a legal standpoint. In fact, the balance of power does not automatically shift just because one individual bore the brunt of the abuse in a single family argument. In the end, neither party suffers any long-term psychological harm in these instances. The chances are that the participants in typical family arguments eventually resolve their issues and return to life as usual.
It is also vital to note that false accusations of non-physical violence are not uncommon when spouses are heading toward divorce. In some cases, one spouse may actually incite the other spouse to use violent language for the purpose of gaining more favorable terms in child custody battles.
It is sometimes challenging for individuals to distinguish between normal language and serious verbal threats, particularly during stressful times. The attorneys at Riordan Family Law recommend that our clients err on the side of caution in the interest of protecting themselves and their children. To obtain an initial assessment of whether legal action is needed, call us or use our convenient online contact form.