Domestic violence or abuse is a significant public health issue in the state of California, affecting all people across socio-economic groups and ages. Also referred to as intimate partner violence, domestic violence can take any form: physical, emotional, or mental abuse. Survivors of this kind of abuse often suffer ongoing effects of the violence, most of which are challenging, and could find it hard to adjust in a safe environment. California statutes are definite on the kinds of punishment anyone found guilty of domestic violence should face. Often, offenders end up facing more than one (1) charge as various sections of the state’s Penal Code are applied during prosecution.

What Constitutes Domestic Violence in California?

Domestic violence in California is provided under Section 273.5 of the State’s Penal Code. Under this statute, anyone found liable for corporal injury to a person who is, or who was once their intimate partner will be severely punished. This law is aimed at preventing any violence in families and close relationships. The state identifies this form of abuse is committed when one person commits a criminal act of any kind within any relationship that is specified by California statutes: spouse or a former spouse, a parent with whom the offender has a child, a cohabitant or former cohabitant or a partner in a dating relationship with the offender. In most cases, domestic violence occurs together with child abuse.

In California, this is a common form of violence and one of the most severely punished by law. Statistics from the state’s Department of Justice shows that over one hundred sixty-six thousand, three hundred and sixty-one (166,361) calls for help relating to domestic violence were received in the state by the local law enforcement officers. According to the state’s Women’s Health Survey 2008 report, about six (6%) percent of women in California have experienced domestic violence in the last twelve (12) months.

From the state laws, domestic violence could constitute a battery, which is legally defined in Section 242 as the illegal and willful use of violence or force against another person. The first part of California Penal Code Section 243 makes it unlawful for a person to commit the crime of battery on any person they are in an intimate relationship with or a member of their family. The crime of domestic violence could also be charged by Section 243(d), which makes it illegal for anyone to inflict serious bodily injury on another. This law could be used in the case of a more significant degree of injuries sustained as a result of domestic violence.

A Domestic Violence Attorney should be able to further explain the law, as well as its consequences under the state’s laws.

Domestic Violence Statistics in California

Domestic violence is a significant problem in all parts of the country, not just California.  The problem affects both men and women, but statistics show that eighty (80%) of all victims of domestic violence in the state are female. Some statistics also show that there are more victims of domestic violence on average in California State than the general average. What this means is that the state of California has a lot to do to minimize cases of domestic violence, maybe through offering support to the victims and educating abusers on how they could manage their anger.

In California, there are over one hundred and seventy (170) organizations that provide services relating to domestic violence at any given level. About one hundred and fifty (150) of these organizations have provided detailed information about their program, and they are located in one hundred and four (104) different cities within the state. The most common services offered by these organizations are resources and case management. The organizations have also been demographically equipped to serve women.

In Long Beach, for instance, there are a total of three (3) domestic abuse shelters and programs that offer hotline services and emergency shelter to victims of domestic violence. Outside the city but still close, there are thirty-eight (38) other local abuse shelters and programs that victims can seek help from, including places such as Harbor City, San Pedro, and Redondo Beach. Domestic shelters within the state provide support to victims and information about domestic violence that could enable the victims to seek help and heal from their ordeal.

Similarly, in Los Angeles, there are twelve (12) domestic abuse shelters and programs at the moment, seven (7) of which are offering hotline services, and eight (8) that are providing emergency shelter. Outside the city and still close by, victims can also find at least thirty-nine (39) domestic violence and abuse programs and shelters in places such as North Hollywood, Glendale, and Pasadena.

How is Domestic Violence Determined in the State?

Determining the extent of this problem in the state of California is not an easy thing. It is not advisable to rely upon the statistics available and the arrest records. This is partly because not all cases of domestic violence are reported. Again, not all arrests made are based on a valid accusation. Some people have been wrongly accused of domestic violence, and many offenders are yet to appear in the record. What this means is that what we get as statistics is only half the truth.

A false accusation of domestic violence can affect several aspects of the accused person’s life. A false accusation will immediately change your life for the worst in so many ways. Depending on the person’s circumstances, a defendant who has been falsely accused may lose their job and any meaningful relationships they had, and this could remain so for the rest of their lives. Proper defense from an experienced Domestic Violence Attorney can help reduce these consequences. 

Studies can be useful in determining the extent of domestic violence in a state like California, but in most cases, surveys are never conclusive and may not give you accurate data. The reason behind a particular study will, in most cases, determine the results the study will file. Some studies are scientific, and others have a hidden agenda. The precise definitions of domestic abuse and domestic violence may also lead to varying results when such studies are conducted, without forgetting the use of different research methodologies. Again, even when studies are done, there is a chance that some people will lie about being abused while others will be shy to admit to being abused.

Domestic Violence Report According to The CDC

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Injury Prevention believes that domestic violence is preventable, even though it is one of the most severe public health issues affecting so many people in the country today. CDC has, over the years, conducted researches and organized programs that are meant to understand the problems that intimate partners face, which lead to domestic violence, as well as how those issues could be prevented even before they begin. CDC is a trustworthy organization, employing some of the most reliable scientists in the country. For this reason, any study it conducts about intimate partner and sexual violence can always be taken seriously, and the results can be accepted as reliable sources of data on domestic violence. 

From CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS):

  • There are about one (1) out of four (4) adult women and approximately one (1) out of seven (7) adult men who have been reported to have experienced the most severe form of physical violence from a family member or an intimate partner in their life.
  • Sixteen (16%) percent of women in the country today and seven (7%) percent of men have experienced at least contact sexual violence from a family member or an intimate partner. Note that this does not include rape, being forced to penetrate another person sexually or sexual coercion, and also unwelcome sexual contact.
  • About ten (10%) percent of women and two (2%) percent of men have been reported as having been stalked by an intimate or an ex-intimate partner.

CDC takes domestic violence to be the following types of conduct:

Physical abuse – this happens when one person hurts or attempts to hurt their partner by either kicking, hitting, or by using any physical force against them.

Stalking – this is usually a pattern of unwanted attention that is done repeatedly, or repeated form of contact by an ex-partner, meant to cause fear. Stalking can lead to significant concerns about one’s safety or the safety of someone else that is close to the victim of stalking.

Psychological aggression – this is done through the use of either verbal or non-verbal communication and is meant to cause the victim mental or emotional harm. Some forms of psychological aggression are intended to exercise control over the other person, who in this case is a partner or an ex-partner.

Sexual violence – this happens when a person attempts to force or forces themselves on their partner or ex-partner in a sexual manner, through the act itself or touching. There are forms of non-physical sexual violence, for instance, sending sexual messages to an unwilling partner and forcing the words on them without their consent.

CDC reports show that there are forms of domestic violence that occur together, while others arise separately. In most cases, domestic violence is related to other types of abuse and violence and can trigger serious economic and health consequences. The organization’s recommendation is the use of an approach that can address risks and any protective factors for all types of violence, including domestic violence, as a way to prevent the problem for good.

CDC reports show that Domestic violence starts very early in a person’s life and goes on throughout their life. 

Domestic Violence Reports from California Women’s Health Survey

The California Women’s Health Survey has been doing a great job since its inception in collecting information about women’s health and providing it to policy-makers. The organization acts as a catalyst in the implementation of innovative solutions that have helped better the health of women and girls in California. From the data the organization collected between 1997 and 2012, the conclusion showed that forty (40%) percent of women in California had reported themselves as victims of domestic violence at one point in their lives. 

From the report, it was concluded that women who reported more cases of domestic violence are the young ones of between eighteen (18) and twenty-nine (29) years of age. More reports of abuse came from women from low-income families and also those from non-white families. Women who have graduated from at least high school or university have reported fewer cases than those who have gone through high school education alone. Those women who have been diagnosed with declining mental health and those who have shown signs of being dazed are most likely those that report or undergo domestic violence.

What Are Its Consequences?

From the above reports, it is clear that domestic violence is a severe health problem that can affect an entire society, and not just the families and the victims. With an approximated number of reported cases by women taking a forty-one (41%) percent slot and fourteen (14%) percent reported by male survivors, it is evident that a lot more is happening behind the scenes, and immediate and effective measures need to be undertaken to curb the vice.  Consequences of domestic violence go beyond the physical injuries that the victims sustain in case of physical abuse. Intimate Partner Violence can result in the death of the abused partner. From the US crime reports; there is a suggestion that about one (1) in every six (6) victims of domestic violence ends up getting killed by their partners. From the same reports, forty (40%) of homicide victims, mostly women, are those that have been killed by their intimate partners.

Death is not the only negative consequence that results from domestic violence. There are so many other health-related effects, such as the development of conditions of the nervous system, problems with reproductive health, gastrointestinal issues, and musculoskeletal problems. Most of these are chronic. Domestic violence survivors also suffer mental issues such as post-traumatic stress disorders and depression.

Domestic Violence Should be Stopped Before It Starts

The CDC recommends support for the development of respectful, healthy, and non-violent intimate relationships as a way to reduce the potential of domestic violence occurrence. If proper support is provided, the harmful and enduring effects of the vice on families, individuals, and the communities will not be experienced. For more information on this issue, talk to a Domestic Violence Attorney nearest you.