Domestic violence is defined by California’s Domestic Violence Prevention Act to mean abuse committed against a spouse, a former spouse, a cohabitant, a former cohabitant, a person with whom the suspect has had a child or is having or has had a dating or engagement relationship, a child of such persons, or any other person related by consanguinity or affinity within the second degree. “Abuse” in this sense could include:
– physical behavior (slapping, punching, pulling hair or shoving);
– sexual assaults or harassment (unwanted fondling or intercourse, sexual jokes, and insults);
– threats (threatening to hit, harm or use a weapon);
– psychological abuse or harassment (attacks on self-esteem, attempts to control or limit another person’s behavior, repeated insults or interrogation);
– vandalism (causing damage to the car or other property of the victim);
– stalking (following a person, appearing at a person’s home or workplace, making repeated phone calls or leaving written messages); or
– cyber-stalking (repeated online action or email that causes substantial emotional distress).
Domestic violence involving bodily injury or the threat of bodily injury can result in criminal charges. A domestic violence conviction has severe consequences that may affect immigration or child custody and visitation proceedings. Domestic violence victims can seek protective orders to stop the abuse.