You should not live in fear of being hurt by someone you know.
Domestic violence occurs when a past or present family or household member:
- Causes or tries to cause bodily harm by hitting, pushing, beating, physically abusing or forcing unwanted sexual relations
- Threatens harm
- Abuses children in the family or household
- Commits acts of stalking or trespassing
A member of the family or household includes:
- Current or former spouse
- Person related by blood or marriage
- Persons living together, or who have lived together within the past five years
- Persons who have children together
- Get medical help, if you are injured
- Call the police
- Go to a safe place
- Contact a Victim Advocate from the list of agencies below
Homesafe Domestic Violence Office
Witness/Victim Service Center
Domestic Violence Center
All Other Counties
National Domestic Violence Hotline
If you are staying in the home with the abuser, practice an escape plan with the children to use in case of an emergency. Make sure to have on hand for a quick escape:
- Credit cards
- Telephone numbers
- Extra car and house keys
- Copies of birth certificate
- Social Security cards
- Medical cards
Tell them what happened and ask for their assistance. Police must do the following if responding to the incident:
- Conduct separate interviews with the victim and the abuser
- Ask about the history of abuse
- Provide the officer’s name, badge and report numbers
- Provide the telephone number of a domestic violence shelter, a number to call for information about the case and provide information about any local victim advocate program
- Make a written report of the incident even if an arrest is not made
Be sure to ask for the officer’s name, badge and report numbers, and also request that a police report is filed.
An officer should arrest an abuser who causes serious physical harm or uses a weapon during the incident. The police may request that domestic violence or other charges be filed if an arrest is made.
Ask the Prosecutor to file criminal charges against the abuser in the city where the abuse occurred and request a TPO at the same time. A TPO is issued only in criminal cases and orders the abuser to:
- Stay away from the victim and family members
- Stay away from the residence and workplace
- Not damage or remove property
- Not carry a weapon
- Not phone or otherwise contact the victim
If the TPO is violated, the victim should:
- Go to a safe place
- Call police and show the officer the order
- Go to the Prosecutor’s Office to file a complaint
- Contact a victim advocate
If the abuser violates the TPO, bail can be revoked or the abuser can be charged with the additional crime of violating the TPO.
File for a CPO in the county Domestic Relations Court or in the general division of the county Common Pleas Court (if there is no Domestic Relations Court). In addition to the TPO orders listed above, a CPO may award temporary custody, grant or suspend visitation with the minor children, and also may order the abuser to:
- Give the victim exclusive use of an automobile
- Attend substance abuse, anger management or batterer’s counseling
- Pay support for the victim and the children
- Be removed from the residence
If the CPO is violated, the victim should:
- Go to a safe place
- Call police and show the officer the order
- Go to the Prosecutor’s Office to file a complaint
- Contact your attorney or a victim advocate
An abuser who is found guilty of violating the order can be sentenced to jail, probation, court supervision, community service or counseling or a combination of any of these.
Go to the Prosecutor’s Office to press charges against the abuser and take:
- Copies of any police reports or incident report numbers
- Any pictures taken of the incident
- Any information about medical treatment for abuse
- Names and addresses of anyone who witnessed the abuse
If criminal charges are filed:
- A Motion for Temporary Protection Order may be issued by the court. It is important to ask the court for a TPO.
- A court hearing will be held on the next court day after the filing of a motion requesting the TPO.
- It may be helpful to have a victim advocate at court for support during the proceedings.
- If the abuser is not present, the abuser may receive notice of the TPO at his or her first court appearance.
- At this hearing, the judge will decide whether the Temporary Protection Order will remain in effect. Any TPO will end at the conclusion of the criminal case or when a Civil Protection Order is issued based on the same facts.
If convicted of the crime of domestic violence, the abuser may be sentenced to jail or be placed on probation. It is important to ask for a “no contact order” to keep the abuser from contacting you after the case is over.
Victims of domestic violence can file for a Civil Protection Order (CPO) with the help of an attorney, or without an attorney (also called “pro se“). It is more helpful to have an attorney. You must file for a CPO in the county Domestic Relations Court or in the general division of the county Common Pleas Court (if there is no Domestic Relations Court).
When a request for a CPO is filed:
A hearing will be held the day the CPO petition is filed with the Court.
The abuser will not be present for the first hearing. You will be asked to tell the court about the most recent incidents of domestic violence. The court will then decide whether to grant the CPO.
Once granted, obtain several certified copies of the CPO from the Clerk of Courts. Certified copies of the order are free.
The second hearing will be held within seven to ten court days. The abuser will be notified and may be present for this hearing.
You must be in court at both hearings and you must bring:
- Copies of any police reports
- Any records of medical treatment for the abuse
- Any records of the abuser’s prior convictions for domestic violence, or a crime of violence
- Anyone who witnessed the abuse
If the abuser does not agree to a CPO or the abuser does not appear at court, testimony will be taken at the hearing, and the court will then decide whether to grant a CPO that may remain in effect for up to five years.
It is important to keep a certified copy of the CPO on you at all times and have it ready to show to the police if the abuser violates the order.
It is always best to have an attorney help you in court, but if you find you must represent yourself, here are some suggestions. Two courts handle family law issues, Juvenile and Domestic Relations. Start by reading the court’s website. Some courts post forms and instructions. For example, the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, Domestic Relations Division, has a complete packet with instructions and forms on how to file a divorce and your divorce decree. See, www.domestic.cuyahogacounty.us/en-us/forms. If you visit the clerk’s office, remember that clerks are not permitted to give legal advice.
If you seek a specific outcome, start by filing a complaint or motion. The other party must receive a copy of the documents that you file with a court. This is called “service.” You can ask the clerk of courts to “serve” the other party by completing a “service instruction” form. You will need a complete address for the other party. Failure to provide an accurate address for the other party will postpone your hearing. The clerk will send you notice of the date, time, and location for your hearing. Remember to notify the scheduler of any changes to your address or phone number. Mark your calendar for deadlines and hearings in your case.
The court expects you to be ready for your hearing. Keep your papers organized with paper clips or folders. Bring to court whatever proof you have that supports your case. For example, to prove your income for child support, you should have recent paystubs, w-2s and tax returns. Include three (3) copies of all documents that you plan to present to the court: one copy for the judge, another for the other party, and the third copy for yourself. Also, have copies of any documents that were filed by you and the other side. You can refer back to these papers as necessary. Invite witnesses that can help you prove your case. The court will expect you to present testimony by asking questions during the hearing. Make sure you know what your witnesses will say when deciding who should testify.
When a case concerns children, courts will not permit your children to come into the court room, so it will be important to plan for child care ahead of time.
When it is time to present your case, stand and follow the directions of the judge or magistrate. Make sure to dress appropriately. Explain what you would like the court to do for you and your family. Most importantly, point out why this action is needed and how it will serve you or the best interest of your children.
This article was written by Legal Aid Managing Attorneys Davida Dodson and Tonya Whitsett and appeared in The Alert: Volume 30, Issue 2. Click here to read a full PDF of this issue!
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of repeated physical, sexual and emotional violence and behaviors that one person in a relationship uses to exercise power and control over the other. Domestic violence is never a random or isolated incident and it often increases in severity and frequency over time.
Abusers control family or household members with verbal insults, emotional abuse, financial control and threats. If these tactics do not work, the abuser then enforces his threats with physical and/or sexual violence. The consequence of the abuse for a victim depends on the tactics, but all abuse emotionally and psychologically hurts the victim. Abusive behaviors always create fear in the victim, force the victim to do what s/he does not want to do, and prevents the victim from doing what s/he wishes to do.
Domestic violence occurs in all communities among people of all income levels, racial and religious backgrounds, gay, lesbian, straight, transgendered, and people with disabilities.
Why do partners abuse?
In the most simple terms, they abuse because they can and it works. Hitting, kicking, choking, threatening, name calling and more are deliberate decisions based on what the abuser has learned through observation, experience and reinforcement. Abuse is not caused by illness, genetics, or substance use. It is not caused by “out of control anger.” Victims do not make their abuser hurt them. Abusers decide when to be abusive to their partners and often choose which part of the victim’s body to hit so as not to leave noticeable marks. Others choose the place and time to carry out their assaults in an effort to exert the most power and control over the victim.
Are you in an abusive relationship?
You may be a victim of abuse if:
1) Your abuser’s failure to accept responsibility forces you to compensate for his behavior.
2) You often feel that you have no control over your life. Decisions about family, friends and activities are based on how the abuser will react.
3) You may feel guilty over the failure of your relationship. This is reinforced by the abuser who blames you for all that goes wrong. Guilt over failure may be accompanied by shame for “putting up” with the abuse.
4) The abuser blames you and you begin to believe it over time.
5) Your behavior may be reinforced by economic dependence and increasing feelings of helplessness and fear as the abuse continues.
6) You may fear the abuser’s anger but you may also deny or minimize this fear. Denial and minimization are common coping strategies for surviving abuse.
7) You become isolated form friends, family or neighbors and other forms of support. This is not by choice.
Your abuser may:
1) Be extremely jealous and suspect you of being unfaithful without any rational reason or evince to support such a belief.
2) Control your access to money, social relationships and job opportunities and may monitor all your activities by making you account for any time apart or money spent.
3) Be emotionally dependent on you and make constant demands for reassurance and gratification.
4) Have poor self-esteem and feel inadequate about his masculinity, sexuality and parenting. These feelings may be masked by an extremely “tough or macho image.”
5) Enforce rigid gender roles or believe in the traditional male “head of household” role.
6) Blame you or others for their behaviors, feelings and problems.
7) Was abused as a child.
8) Have few friends and poor social skills.
9) Be cruel not only to you but to children and pets.
10) Be preoccupied with gun, knives, etc.
11) Respond to situations with unpredictability.
12) Use inappropriate displays of anger if they do not get what they want which includes physical touching without consent, threaten violence, verbal abuse and breaking objects of value to you.
If you think any of the above may be true for a relationship you have, call the numbers listed in this newsletter for help. Click here to access the information online.
This article was written by Legal Aid Senior Attorney Alexandria Ruden and appeared in The Alert: Volume 31, Issue 1. Click here to read a full PDF of this issue!
This information was compiled by Legal Aid Social Worker Dani Lachina and appeared in The Alert: Volume 31, Issue 1. Click here to read a full PDF of this issue!
Domestic violence affects everyone in a household including children. Children may suffer physical injury or threats, but also experience emotional distress when they witness violence between their parents or other adults in the home.
If a child is not safe at home because of domestic violence, the adult victim should be supported. Victims of violence may be able to leave the abuser and remove the children from danger, if they are able to secure emergency shelter, financial assistance, food and other basic necessities. When a child is injured, some victims need help getting the child to a doctor, hospital, or prescribed medical treatment. In any life threatening situation, always call 9-1-1 for help.
Many children who witness violence experience immediate and long term effects on their well- being. Young children may experience problems sleeping, nightmares, and bedwetting. Older children may be aggressive toward other children or the parent they live with. Some children don’t feel hopeful about the future while other children experience learning and behavior problems. Parents and caregivers should let others involved in the child’s life know about the violence – if it’s safe to do so. Then, teachers, coaches, and friends will understand the negative changes in behavior.
Long-term effects of domestic violence may cause children to experience shock, fear, guilt and anger. These are normal feelings for children under the circumstances. But, the feelings can be difficult to cope with, both for the child and the adult. Often professional support and counseling is needed to manage a child’s normal reactions to witnessing violence.
Sometimes it is necessary to engage the legal system to assist children who experience domestic violence. Parents may file a complaint to determine custody in Juvenile Court (if the parties are not married) or the Domestic Relations Court (if the parties were or are married). Additionally, parents may file a motion to obtain a Civil Protection Order that also covers the children in order to stop future violence. These petitions, complaints, or motions should be supported by an affidavit (a written statement that a person signs, swearing it’s the truth) to explain why a court order is needed to protect the children. Forms to make these filings to protect children are available online at www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/jcs/cfc/drforms and https://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/…/domesticV.
Domestic violence affects the well being of children. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, call the resources listed in this newsletter for immediate help. Legal Aid provides representation in some cases. Call 1-888-817-3777 to apply for help.
This article was written by Legal Aid Managing Attorney Davida Dodson and appeared in The Alert: Volume 31, Issue 1. Click here to read a full PDF of this issue!
Cuyahoga County, in partnership with the City of Cleveland, recently opened the new Family Justice Center, a one stop center for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, elder abuse and stalking. The center is designed to help victims and survivors access the professionals they need, while in a comfortable, healing environment. Cuyahoga County is excited to join the Family Justice Center movement, which has launched over 120 centers worldwide in the last fifteen years. Family Justice Centers are considered to be state of the art and let victims of crime choose better coordinated services that will help them live safer lives.
The center was launched after years of planning and coordination amongst multiple partners, including the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland. Teams of professionals, survivors, and funders met regularly to ensure that Cuyahoga County’s Family Justice Center was built with victim needs in mind.
Onsite service providers include the Witness/Victim Service Center, Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center, Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, Frontline Services, City of Cleveland Division of Police, and City of Cleveland Prosecutor’s Office. The Family Justice Center also has relationships with the County’s Division of Children & Family Services, the County Prosecutor’s Office, and the Legal Aid attorneys. Although there are Cleveland specific services, any Cuyahoga County resident can come to the Family Justice Center for assistance with protection orders, linkages to counseling and supportive services, and assistance navigating the justice system.
No appointment is needed! The Family Justice Center is open Monday through Friday, from 8:30 to 4:30 p.m. The address is 75 Erieview Plaza, 5th Floor, Cleveland, Ohio 44114. Free parking for victims of crime is available at the Hamilton Parking Garage, at E. 12th Street, between St. Clair and Lakeside Avenues. For more information or if you have questions, call the Family Justice Center at 216-443-7345.
This article was written by Jill Smialek of the Cuyahoga County Family Justice Center and appeared in The Alert: Volume 31, Issue 1. Click here to read a full PDF of this issue!