Virginia’s judicial system has no time for stereotypes. Women and men can both be abused. The Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts do not refer to “wife beating” or “wife abuse.” The phrase is “family abuse,” which is legally defined as “any act involving violence, force, or threat including any forceful detention, which results in physical injury or places one in reasonable apprehension of serious bodily injury and which is committed by a person against such a person’s family or household member.” If your wife is abusing you, you can get help.
Call the Virginia Family Violence & Sexual Assault Hotline
For immediate help in an abusive situation, call 911. Another path to help is the Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline, 1-800-838-8238.
Virginia’s Victim Assistance Network can also provide help. You are a victim, not a cause. You are the symptom, not the source. Your wife is wrong to abuse you. Period.
Defining Family Abuse in Virginia
“Family abuse” in Virginia covers many methods abusers use against those they supposedly love:
- Controlling behavior
- Verbal abuse
- Extreme jealousy
- Unreasonable reactions
- Instills fear
- Blaming everyone else for her behaviors
- Inability to handle criticism
If you as a Virginia man feel your wife is abusing you, you have a right to seek relief from that abuse. You can first seek police action followed by legal action (an attorney and the court system).
Calling The Police for Domestic Assault & Battery in Virginia
If you are in immediate danger, do not hesitate to call the police. Under state law, law enforcement officers are required to arrest any person suspected of the crime of domestic assault and battery.
Their suspicions can be physical signs of abuse on your person, your own words that your wife abused you, or eyewitness accounts from other adults. The arrest may offer a night’s relief from the abuse, but you need a long-term plan. You need a civil protective order.
What is a Civil Protective Order?
A civil protective order, in its three different varieties, can offer up to two years of help:
- Emergency Protective Order (EPO) — An EPO is requested of the court by a law enforcement officer or a family abuse victim every time an arrest is made for domestic assault and battery, or when reasons exist to believe family abuse has occurred or will occur; the EPO is good for at least 72 hours
- Preliminary Protective Order (PPO) — A family abuse victim may file a petition at the Intake Office of the Court Service Unit for a PPO, or the court may also issue a PPO, which holds until a full hearing (held within 15 days) is convened
- Protective Order (PO) — A family abuse victim may request a PO by filing a petition with the Intake Office of the Court Service Unit; the PO may only be issued after notice to both parties and opportunity for a full hearing before a judge, and it can be valid for up to two years
Legal Remedies for Domestic Abuse
Any civil protective order is a bandage over a festering wound. Getting to the cause of the domestic abuse involves legal remedies of a more permanent nature:
- Filing of Criminal Charges
Family law attorneys in Virginia can guide you through these remedies, but only if you seek out their help. You were brave enough to endure abuse from your wife. Now you need to be brave enough to seek help.
If you press charges of family abuse against your wife, you must follow through so that she gets the message to stop the abuse.
A finding of guilt for family abuse brings a sentence of a Class 1 Misdemeanor under Virginia Code § 18.2-11, “… confinement in jail for not more than twelve months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both.”
Putting your wife in jail for abusing you gives you the necessary time to begin separation and divorce proceedings. Even if she does not receive a full year, her behavior, arrest and conviction gives you the fault grounds you need to divorce her under Virginia Code § 20-91:
“Where either party has been guilty of cruelty, caused reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt, or willfully deserted or abandoned the other, such divorce may be decreed to the innocent party after a period of one year from the date of such act.”
During that year, including any jail time she serves, you and she must be separate and apart. You may have doubts and worries during that time, but with the help of a family law attorney, you may come to realize that you are not the problem: she is.
Call The Domestic Violence Attorneys For Men
The Firm For Men stands ever-vigilant to protect men’s rights in Virginia. We can help with matters of domestic violence, stopping family abuse, petitioning for protective orders, and filing for separation and divorce. Contact us online or telephone our office at (757) 383-9184 today.