LGBTQ Domestic Violence Lawyers Handling Same Sex Restraining Orders and Abuse Charges in New Jersey
Domestic violence has been a problem for couples in New Jersey for a very long time. Of course, domestic violence can impact people from all walks of life, and it is important to understand that this problem is not limited to heterosexual couples: same-sex couples can also be involved in domestic violence incidents. In fact, LGBTQ victims often have a particularly difficult time in these situations because of the historical bias against them in the legal system. With the legalization of same-sex marriage and other legal trends in recent years, however, members of the LGBTQ community are now being afforded the same legal protections as everyone else, including protection against abuse by their spouses, partners, or significant others. To learn more about what the law says about same-sex couples and domestic violence in NJ, keep reading.
If you have a pending restraining order or domestic violence matter as a member of the LGBTQ community in New Jersey, we at The Tormey Law Firm stand ready to assist you. Our attorneys have approximately 100 years of combined experience handling all aspects of the criminal and civil cases that often arise when domestic violence allegedly occurs. We appear in courts across the state of New Jersey every week as we tirelessly protect our clients’ interests in places like Mount Olive, Bergenfield, Paramus, Cranford, Ocean Township, Mount Holly, and many other communities. To discuss how we can help with your LGBTQ domestic violence case in NJ, contact us at (908)-336-5008 for a free consultation.
Rates of Domestic Abuse Among LGBTQ Partners
In New Jersey and throughout the United States, there has been a notable rise in the number of domestic violence incidents involving LGBTQ partners. In fact, LGBTQ victims of domestic abuse represent a significant percentage of all domestic abuse victims. The prevalence of domestic abuse in New Jersey is one reason that law enforcement places a special emphasis on making arrests and taking any steps necessary to prevent potentially deadly escalation when there is an allegation of domestic violence. For same-sex couples, domestic violence can be uniquely harmful because rates of abuse are often higher when the partners are gay, lesbian, or bisexual.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a survey of same-sex partners and found that rates of domestic violence in these relationships tend to be higher than rates of domestic violence for heterosexual couples. For example, 44% of lesbian partners reported being subjected to rape, physical violence, or stalking, which is noticeably higher than the percentage of heterosexuals who reported violence by an intimate partner. The same is true for lesbian women who reported being hit, slammed, or beaten by their partner: 29% for lesbian partners vs. just 24% for heterosexuals. Gay men also reported being victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner at a rate higher than heterosexual men: 16% for gay partners vs. 14% for heterosexual partners.
Types of Abuse Among Same-Sex Couples
When most people think of “domestic violence” and “domestic abuse,” they tend to picture incidents involving physical attacks and victims being struck by their perpetrators. But the truth is that domestic violence is more than just assault, and there are a number of ways that someone can exert abusive power over their partner.
Some of the most common types of abuse among same-sex couples in NJ include the following:
The most prevalent type of domestic violence is physical abuse, which can result in criminal charges for assault on top of a restraining order. If your partner hit, slapped, kicked, choked, or physically restrained you in any way, this could be enough to have them arrested for domestic violence.
When one partner threatens to harm the other partner, it may be considered a form of domestic violence. This is true even if the offender does not follow through on their threat. Additionally, these types of threats can take many forms, such as the abuser verbally declaring that they will assault or kill the other person, stalking the other person at their workplace after a break-up, using coercion to get the other person to remain in the relationship, or telling their partner that they will be “outed” as an LGBTQ person to their family, friends, or co-workers.
A specific form of verbal abuse that may constitute domestic violence in an LGBTQ relationship is psychological or emotional abuse. This can include verbal insults, name-calling, public humiliation, contacting the other person’s job, coercive control, or threatening to out the person if the person doesn’t take some step or not do something.
Control and Isolation
A less common type of domestic violence involves attempting to control the partner’s actions during the relationship. Perhaps your partner limited who you could visit or communicate with, or they may have refused to let you go anywhere outside of their presence. This kind of controlling behavior and attempts to isolate a partner from other people is a particularly damaging form of domestic violence because it could make the partner feel alone and unable to process what is happening to them. For a transgender partner, this type of domestic violence could include attempting to control their ability to receive hormone treatments.
A particularly harmful form of domestic violence occurs when one partner uses economic abuse to make them feel as though they have no choice but to remain in the relationship. For example, your partner might have stopped you from getting a job and earning your own income, or they may have done the opposite and took advantage of you by requiring you to financially support them.
Protective Measures Available for LGBTQ+ Domestic Violence Victims in New Jersey
The NJ Prevention of Domestic Violence Act protects all New Jersey residents against the forms of domestic abuse listed above. As set forth by the statute, LGBTQ victims of domestic violence have the same rights as everyone else, and that includes the right to file a restraining order and/or pursue criminal charges against the offender. In New Jersey, the first response to a domestic violence incident is usually to notify law enforcement so that steps can be taken to protect the victim against further abuse. Police will typically show up at the residence or location of the alleged domestic violence, speak with both the victim and the accused, and then make an arrest. As a general rule, authorities tend to err on the side of caution and arrest anyone who is credibly accused of domestic violence in order to ensure that the victim is not exposed to even greater violence or death. All police will need to see is that a weapon was allegedly used in the offense, or the victim shows signs of injury.
After an arrest is made, one of the strongest legal protections available is a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that will prevent the abuser from contacting you or even being near you. Additionally, the TRO will allow police to seize any guns or other deadly weapons from the accused. The TRO should remain in place for a period of 10 days, at which point a restraining order hearing will be held in Family Court and the accused will have an opportunity to explain to a judge why the restraining order should be lifted.
Depending on the outcome of this hearing, it’s possible that a Final Restraining Order (FRO) will be issued. This would permanently bar the accused from communicating with you or being in your vicinity, and the consequences of the accused violating the FRO could include substantial prison time.
If you are involved in a domestic violence case as a same-sex partner, it is imperative that you have an attorney representing you – whether you are the accused individual or the person making the accusation. An experienced NJ same-sex domestic violence lawyer at The Tormey Law Firm can make sure that your rights are protected throughout the entire legal process.
Domestic Abuse Charges Against LGBTQ Individuals in NJ
At the same time that a temporary restraining order is filed, authorities may also bring criminal charges against the accused. It is important to understand that these are distinct legal actions: it’s possible for a person to be convicted of a domestic violence crime but avoid a restraining order, just as it’s also possible for a person to have a restraining order issued against them but not be charged or convicted of a crime.
If criminal charges are filed in your case, it means that police determined that the accused committed what is known as a “predicate act” of domestic violence. Some of the most common predicate acts of domestic violence include Aggravated Assault, Harassment, Terroristic Threats, Stalking, Sexual Assault, Lewdness, False Imprisonment, Criminal Restraint, Kidnapping, and Burglary.
Contact our NJ Same Sex Domestic Violence Attorneys for Help
It’s critical to comprehend your rights and the legal safeguards that are accessible to you if you or someone you know is experiencing the terrible reality of domestic abuse within the LGBTQ community in New Jersey. Domestic abuse is not exclusive to heterosexual couples; it affects people from all walks of life. Understanding your legal rights and safeguards will enable you to take the appropriate action to preserve your safety and welfare in Elizabeth, Morristown, New Brunswick, Millburn, Madison, Livingston, Woodland Park, and towns across New Jersey. In order to navigate the legal system, it can be very beneficial to have the representation of an experienced NJ LGBTQ domestic violence lawyer, regardless of whether you are a victim seeking protection or someone who has been wrongfully accused. For highly skilled legal counsel for same-sex couples in domestic violence cases in NJ, contact us at (908)-336-5008 or via our online form for an initial and complimentary consultation with our attorneys.