Those experiencing domestic violence should get help by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233. Here’s what you need to know about domestic violence survivors’ rights.

In 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was passed with additions updated in 1996. It outlined grant programs to prevent acts of violence toward women and established a national domestic violence hotline. New protections were given to victims of domestic abuse, such as confidentiality of new addresses and changes to immigration laws that allow a battered spouse to apply for permanent residency.

Domestic Violence Survivors’ Rights

The Violence Against Women Act implemented the following:

  • Special domestic violence and sexual violence training for law enforcement officers
  • Funding of special domestic violence crime units in local communities
  • Provisions allowing undocumented folks who are the victims of domestic violence to apply for a green card in exchange for helping law enforcement officials prosecute their abusers
  • The ability of tribal courts to try non-Indian spouses or intimate partners of Indian women in domestic or dating violence cases
  • Full funded rape kits and legal/court fees for domestic violence protection orders
  • Victim protection orders recognition and enforcement in all state, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions within the U.S.

What is domestic violence or abuse?

Abuse does not need to be happening right now for it to be counted as domestic violence or abuse. Domestic violence or abuse includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • Threats
  • Sexual abuse

May take the forms of but is not limited to marital rape, attacking sexual body parts, physical violence that is followed by forcing sex, sexually demeaning the victim, or telling sexual jokes at the victim’s expense

  • Physical abuse

May take the form of but is not limited to hitting, biting, slapping, battering, shoving, punching, pulling hair, burning, cutting, and pinching

  • Mental abuse
  • Emotional Abuse

May take the form of but is not limited to constant criticism, name-calling, injuring the victim’s relationship with his/her children, or interfering with the victim’s abilities

Related: How Domestic Violence Affects Alimony: Family Code 4320

  • Lack of control of money or bank accounts
  • Economic Abuse

May take the form of but is not limited to invoking fear through intimidation; threatening to physically hurt himself/herself, the victim, children, the victim’s family or friends, or the pets; destruction of property; injuring the pets; isolating the victim from loved ones, and prohibiting the victim from going to school or work

  • Stalking

May take the form of but is not limited to the victim, spying, watching, harassing, showing up at the victim’s home or work, sending gifts, collecting information, making phone calls, leaving written messages, or appearing at a person’s home or workplace

  • Cyberstalking
  • Controlled or forced to do things
  • Loss of personal rights

It May take the form of but is not limited to not letting spouses see a doctor, friends, and relatives

  • Denial of abuse or being blamed for the abuse
  • Control and oversight of personal life and social life

Related to: Domestic Violence During COVID-19

Defining an Abuser

An abuser is not exclusively a spouse it can be any of the following:

  • Former spouse or partner
  • Relative
  • Fiance
  • Dating partner
  • Someone who shared the same living space with the abused
  • Someone who engaged in sexual intercourse with the abused

Dating violence 

This can be committed by a person in a social, romantic, or intimate relationship with the victim. The existence of such a relationship is determined using the following factors:

  • The length of the relationship
  • The type of relationship
  • Partners’ frequency of interaction

Gathering Proof of Domestic Violence

Unless one is told in writing that the court does not believe the statement is credible, those who have nothing other than a sworn statement still have the right to be heard by the courts. Proof of domestic violence may include any of the following:

  • Police reports
  • Statements from the staff at domestic violence shelters
  • Medical providers
  • Staff of nonprofits
  • Witnesses

Contact Us

If you or a loved one would like to learn more about the Rights of Domestic Violence Survivors, get your free consultation with one of our Domestic Violence Attorneys today!