It is often not seen. It is often not reported. It is sometimes incorrectly reported.

Domestic violence, however, is much more widespread in society than many people realize. The state of Georgia defines domestic violence as an act of “family violence”. The law protects victims from physical and sexual abuse by family members.

I’m not a fan of statistics because they can be manipulated easily. However, many studies show that three in ten women in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, and / or stalking by an intimate partner. While the percentage is lower, men are victims too.

Georgia’s Family Violence Act (FVA) is a law protecting individuals who are molested by current or past spouses, parents of the same child, parents and children, step-parents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or anyone else living or formerly in the same household.

Most of the laws relevant to domestic violence are based on state law. This includes injunctions or protection orders, divorce, custody, crime, and more. A wide variety of crimes are committed in divorce and custody disputes. These can be violent or non-violent offenses.

Domestic violence allegations are taken very seriously in Georgia. While most cases of family violence are misdemeanors, if convicted under the FVA, a person loses their right to possession of a firearm under federal law.

In addition, the Georgian criminal justice system punishes most acts of domestic violence more severely than identical acts committed between people who are not in a domestic relationship.

For example, most simple attacks will be penalized as offenses. However, the same domestic violence attacks can be punished more severely as grave and grave offenses.

Battery illustrates another great example of the harsher sentences associated with domestic violence convictions.

While a second conviction of domestic violence results in a crime, batteries that do not include domestic violence only become the accused’s third conviction of a battery committed against the same victim.

Some civil action can lead to criminal prosecution. A judge can issue a protection order.

This order prohibits the perpetrator from contact with the victim for a certain period of time. If a person is found to have violated an injunction or protection order, they could be jailed and charged with another crime, including serious stalking.

Most judges are reluctant to give bailouts for serious stalking that can result in up to 20 years in state prison.

Protection orders can be powerful weapons if they are not misused by less than honest people. A judge can:

  • Order a perpetrator to leave the victim alone;
  • Give ownership of the house to the victim and force the perpetrator to leave;
  • Arranging assistance to help a victim maintain their personal property;
  • Ask the perpetrator to provide alternative housing to a spouse, ex-spouse or parent and children;
  • Give the victim temporary custody of common children and establish temporary visiting rights;
  • Provide temporary child support and / or spouse support to the perpetrator; and
  • Order the perpetrator to go to counseling.

However, if an alleged victim tries to use a protection order to get the upper hand in a divorce or lies to the judge, he or she will face dire consequences, including charges of perjury, misrepresentation to law enforcement, and other crimes.

Victims of domestic violence must speak out and seek help immediately and keep a safe distance from the perpetrator.

Alleged perpetrators facing a civil hearing or charged with a criminal offense must ensure that they use the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can effectively defend allegations of domestic violence.

If we as a community make a strong concerted effort to bring awareness of domestic violence to the public, it will not eradicate this evil in the homes. But the cases of such behavior will decrease.

I humbly ask you to join me in spreading the word in western Georgia on this issue that is destroying relationships, happiness and even life.