A new year has many Americans make a variety of resolutions. They resolve to lose 10 pounds, exercise more, or learn a new skill. For others, their resolution can literally save their lives. They resolve to leave an abusive relationship.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner, equating to more than 10 million women and men. Domestic violence hotlines take more than 20,000 phone calls every day.
Despite the number of calls coming into hotlines, many victims don’t speak up out of fear. If you or someone you know is living in a violent home, getting decisive legal support can help break the cycle of domestic violence.
If you are in an emergency, call 9-1-1. The 24-Hour National Domestic Violence Hotline is 800-799-SAFE (7233) or TDD 800-787-3224.
Domestic Violence on the Rise in COVID Era
The pandemic appears to have increased the frequency and severity of intimate partner abuse. In one study of Harris County (TX) residents impacted by domestic violence, more than 50% of respondents reported that the abuse increased during the pandemic. Job loss, the stress of stay-home orders, and increased alcohol/drug use were attributing factors.
When comparing 2020 to 2019, Texas saw a 10% increase in domestic violence incidents, and 23% more people were killed by an intimate partner.
An estimated 232,319 family violence victims contacted the police between March 2019 and February 2020. That number rose to 255,347 between March 2020, when the pandemic started, and February 2021, according to law enforcement incident reports in the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Uniform Crime Report.
According to the Texas Council on Family Violence, 228 men and women were killed by their intimate partners. More women – 183 – were killed in 2020 than any other year in the last decade. Harris County has the dubious distinction of recording 37 intimate-partner fatalities, the most of any Texas County. Nearby Fort Bend County had the sixth-most deaths with 7.
The violence often extended to outside the relationship with 31 family, friends, and bystanders killed and another 17 injured. Most homicides were committed by an abuser with a firearm.
The following factors contributed to the surge in domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Isolated and Unable to Connect with Support System
- Economic Instability
- No Reliable Childcare
- Job Loss
- Increased Dependence on Abusive Partner
Economic instability is often a trigger in an abusive relationship, domestic violence occurs among the wealthiest as well. The need to have power and control over another occurs at all income levels.
Abuse at all Socioeconomic Levels
The stereotype that violence happens among the poor and less educated keeps victims of upscale abuse quiet, says psychotherapist Dr. Susan Weitzman. Weitzman studies the impact of domestic violence in middle- and upper-class relationships. She coined the terms upscale violence and upscale abuse in 2000.
The culture of affluence - competition, perfectionism, and status – also keeps some high-net-worth victims in the closet. They feel compelled to maintain the façade of their so-called perfect life.
As we go into 2022, resolve to leave an abusive situation whatever your economic status. Our team at The Springer Law Firm can help victims seek emergency shelter and obtain a protective order to prevent further abuse.
Protective Orders in Texas
Protective orders can protect you from someone who has been violent or has threatened to be violent.
A protective order can prohibit the abuser from coming near you, your children, your pets, your home, and anywhere else you often are, such as a job or a parent’s or friend’s house. They cannot contact you in any way, nor make any threats. They cannot have a gun or obtain a license for one. Police can arrest them if they violate the order.
There are three types of protective orders:
- Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order. Your case is presented to a judge for immediate consideration. If the judge determines there is cause, they can rule to put in place a temporary order. In some cases, the judge orders the other person to leave the home right away. The ex parte order protects you until the full court hearing where the respondent can present their side. The hearing is usually within two weeks.
- Final Protective Order. Even if you get a Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order, you must go to the full hearing to get a Final Protective Order. During the hearing, the judge will hear both sides, review evidence, and cross-examine witnesses before determining whether to issue a final order. While sometimes called permanent, a final protective order lasts for a specific amount of time, usually no more than two years. The order can be extended if a judge determines circumstances warrant a continuation of the protection.
- Magistrate’s Order of Emergency Protection. While the first two orders are issued by a civil court, this type of order is issued by the criminal court after the abuser is arrested.
The judge can issue other temporary orders in tandem with the protective order:
- Who can stay in the home
- Spousal support
- Child custody
- Child support
Importantly, respondents to ex parte and final protective orders are prohibited from possessing firearms for the duration of the order.
Break Free from Domestic Violence
Our attorneys at The Springer Law Firm have decades of experience in domestic abuse cases in Katy and throughout the Houston area. We can help you find temporary, safe shelter for you and your children, then file for Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order. We will be at your side through each step of the process, from the required paperwork to hearings.
Once you are out of the abusive home, we can also help you with potentially filing for divorce, seeking permanent custody, or obtaining financial support.
Contact us online or call (281) 990-6025 to learn how we can provide you with the emotional and legal support you need.