Domestic Violence And Abuse

Authored By: Lagniappe Law Lab
Read this in: Spanish / Español

About

Domestic violence is a pattern of abuse or aggression among people living in the same home. This could be a family member, your spouse, or your roommate. One form of domestic violence is intimate partner violence (IPV). The abuser's primary goal is to gain and maintain control over the victim. 

When people think of domestic violence, they often connect it with physical abuse. Although, domestic violence can take on various forms. Some types of abuse are harder to see than others.

The most important step when leaving an abuser is to set up a safety plan so that you and others living in the house is protected. Immediately CALL 911 if you are suffering abuse by a member of your family or a partner. 

If your abuser refuses to leave you alone, you can file a petition for a restraining order. A restraining order is a court order that prevents your abuser from contacting you and coming near you.

General Domestic Violence And Abuse Information

Not everyone can see the warning signs in their partner. Here are some red flags to look out for. 

Warning Signs of an Abuser: 

  • Views you as property or a sexual object

  • They may feel inadequate

  • They blame their behavior on others, drugs, or other factors 

  • Embarrasses you in front of others 

  • Narcissistic

  • Controlling behavior

  • Hypersensitive

  • Tries to isolate you from friends and family

  • Blames you for any issues or anything bad that has happened

  • Mean to animals

Phase 1: Tension Build-up Decorative Image Showing The Cycle of Abuse

  • When the abuser tries to control the victim
  • Feels like you are walking on eggshells
  • Abuser starts to demean and belittle you
  • Acts jealous and possessive
  • Picks fights

Phase 2: Explosion

  • Blames the victim for starting fights
  • Destroys property
  • Physically, verbally, sexually, and emotionally abuses you

Phase 3: Honeymoon

  • The abuser asks for forgiveness
  • Become affectionate
  • Initiate intimacy
  • The abuser promises that it won't happen again

You can find more information about the Cycle of Abuse in the Family Transition Place PDF.

Leaving an abuser can be a very dangerous time. It is important to know how to protect yourself and your loved ones. Creating a safety plan is a helpful way to organize and process important information before leaving your abuser. Additionally, you can take other safety measures such as filing a restraining order to prevent your abuser from coming near you and contacting you.

You can download and create a personal safety plan using the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Important things to know and Items to Keep With You:

  • Important documents
    • Social security number
    • Passport
    • Driver's license
    • Birth certificate
      • Shelters
      • Family and friends' houses
  • Start a savings account
  • Buy a new phone
  • List of friends and family you can trust and who will help you
  • List of places you can stay

Definition Of Abuse

Domestic abuse includes multiple types of abuse including: 

  • Physical Abuse; 
  • Emotional And Verbal Abuse;
  • Love Bombing; 
  • Gaslighting; 
  • Sexual Abuse;
  • Financial Abuse; 
  • Digital Abuse; and 
  • Stalking 

Learn more about each type of abuse that may be a part of a domestic violence situation. Understand different examples of how each type of abuse may appear in a situation. 

Types of Abuse And Examples

Intentionally inflicts physical harm or death on someone. This is the most common form of abuse. Examples include:

  • Hitting

  • Slapping

  • Denying medical care

  • Controliing medications

  • Forcing the use of drugs or alcohol or both

  • Use of a weapon

Causes intentional harm to a person both mentally and emotionally. Examples include:

  • Yelling
  • Calling you names and insulting you

  • Controlling what you do

  • Preventing you from seeing and communicating with friends and family

  • Gaslighting 

  • Threatening to harm themselves or you to keep you in the relationship

  • Blaming you for every issue in the relationship

  • Threatening to post intimate pictures of you on the internet 

  • Threatening to post lies about you on the internet

  • Making you feel worthless and lowering your self-esteem

  • Love bombing

Forces, coerces, or pressures you to take part in sexual behavior that they do not want to do. Examples include: 

  • Making you take part in sexual acts that make you uncomfortable

  • Performing sexual acts on or with you without your consent or when you are unable to give clear consent (i.g., intoxicated, unconscious, asleep)

  • Refusing to wear a condom during sex or controlling your birth control

  • Using sexual insults 

  • Making you feel obligated to have sex with them

  • Your partner having unwanted sex with you (rape)

**Sexual abuse by a spouse or a romantic partner is illegal in the United States.

Controls how much money you can spend, receive, or make. It is the abuser's goal to make you financially dependent on him or her. Examples include:

  • Controls how and when you can spend your money

  • Gives you an allowance

  • Prevents you from being able to work or only lets you work part-time

  • Uses your's or your children's social security number to open a bank account and receive credit cards

  • Claiming your child on their taxes

  • Maxing out your credit cards and ruining your credit score

  • Depositing your checks into an account you do not have access to 

  • Using coercive and manipulating behavior to control your financial decisions

Uses technology, social media, and other communication platforms to manipulate, control, harass, embarrass, intimidate, and stalk you. Examples include:

  • Using social media to track your daily activities
  • Using trackers to see where you are going

  • Reading through your emails, texts, and other ways you communicate with people

  • Threatens to text, post, and email explicit photos of you

Acts by creating fear in another through unwanted fearful or threatening actions toward the victim. Examples include:

  • Showing up uninvited to your job or home or both

  • Using technology to track what you are doing

  • The abuser manipulates others into telling them what you are doing 

  • Watching you from a distance

  • Leaving unwanted gifts and items at your house 

  • Sending unwanted texts, calls, voicemails, emails, and letters

Legal Issues To Consider

Legal Issues To Consider Related To Domestic Violence and Abuse

There are many legal matters that a victim of domestic violence may have to deal with. Getting legal advice or representation from a lawyer is highly recommended. Listed below are the main legal issues surrounding domestic violence that you might need help with. This includes the legal topic areas related to issues in: 

  • Family & Safety
  • Workplace
  • Housing

Family & Safety

A restraining order is one way a victim can protect themselves from their abuser. Restraining orders are court orders that prevent the abuser from contacting you or coming near you.  While you do not need a lawyer or advocate to file a petition for a restraining order, it is highly recommended. The Louisiana Domestic Violence Coalition lists programs across the state that may be able to help.

Learn more about getting a restraining or protective order here

It is possible to divorce an abuser immediately to prevent further abuse from happening. A victim can also file for a restraining order when filing for a divorce at the same time. You will receive an immediate divorce if your restraining order is granted at the hearing.

You can learn more about divorce by visiting the resource below: 

Adult Protective Services (APS) protects adults with disabilities from domestic violence. APS is part of the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) Office of Aging and Adult Services. APS investigates reports and arranges for services to protect vulnerable adults ages 18-59. APS also protects emancipated minors who are at risk of abuse, neglect, exploitation, or extortion. APS will connect organizations with high-risk adults to prevent future harm.

Reports of adult abuse may be made 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to 1-800-898-4910 

To learn more about the law, check out the Adult Protective Services Act to learn more.

If you know of any child who is being abused or neglected, call the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services at 855.452.5237. Their phones are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. All calls are confidential. Trained social workers will determine if the information provided fits the definition of child abuse and/or neglect.

Learn more about child abuse and neglect by visiting the resource: 

It is important to understand custody laws to protect your children from domestic violence. If you or your children are being abused, you may be able to receive full custody of the children by filing a restraining order. This could mean that the abuser loses their visitation rights and may not be allowed to have contact with their children for an extended amount of time or ever. If you are granted a restraining order, you may be granted sole custody of your children. 

To learn more about child custody visit this resource here

Workplace

While several states have enacted laws that provide domestic violence victims (and in some states, victims of sexual assault and stalking) time off from work to address the violence in their lives and/or that protect victims from employment discrimination related to the violence, Louisiana, unfortunately, does not yet have these laws.

However, federal law may protect victims of domestic violence in the workplace or permits them time off. A victim of domestic or sexual violence or who has a family or household member who is a victim of such violence can take unpaid leave to deal with the issue.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may also allow victims to take up to 12 weeks off every 12 months who are facing domestic violence-related issues. An employee who is physically injured or develops psychological trauma as a result of domestic violence might be entitled to FMLA leave. An employee might also be able to take time off to care for a parent or child who has been a victim of domestic violence. 

For more on FMLA protections, see Legal Momentum's Know Your Rights guide Medical Leave for Survivors and Family Members.

Negative actions against a victim of domestic violence can be viewed as discrimination in the workplace. Victims may experience discrimination if they have taken too much time off due to hospital visits from physical abuse, dealing with legal matters regarding domestic abuse, or emotional trauma. An employer cannot discriminate or take action against a victim for their abuser’s behavior at the victim’s workplace. This includes the abuser showing up and disrupting the victim’s workplace or harassing the victim or their coworkers. 

While some victims might have rights under discrimination or wrongful discharge laws, most employees are at will. At-will means an employee can get fired at any time for no reason. However, an employee can not be fired for discrimination.

Housing

Housing can be a major issue when it comes to domestic violence. When it comes to deciding who gets to keep the house, who has to move out or whether you can terminate your lease early, it is helpful to reach out to a lawyer for legal advice. 

Filing a petition for a restraining order can get the abuser evicted from the house or rental immediately. If renting, only the abuser will be evicted. However, the victim can terminate the lease with a 30 days notice if they can provide their landlord with the proper documentation: 

  • A restraining order, or 

  • Certification of domestic abuse is signed by a licensed clinical social worker or someone who has a master’s degree in social work. 

To learn more about lease cancellation and evictions related to domestic violence and abuse visit the resource: 

Getting Help

Getting Help

Domestic violence victims may need to access critical care and services. Find the list of important resources related to domestic violence below. 

Domestic Violence Resources

The Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence is a statewide network of battered women's programs, supportive organizations, and individuals working to end violence against women and children in Louisiana.

Websitehttps://lcadv.org/statewide-hotline/

Statewide Hotline: Louisiana DV Hotline: 1-888-411-1333. 

The hotline is confidential, free, and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

You will be able to find a list of shelters and advocacy groups for each parish on the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence here

National Domestic Violence Hotline

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV)

You can find additional organizations on the Louisiana Supreme Court page here

Use our referral navigator to find legal services.  

Last Review and Update: Nov 02, 2022
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