What is Considered Domestic Abuse Under New Jersey Law?
The State of New Jersey has a broad definition of domestic abuse, which can include verbal and emotional abuse. More specifically, New Jersey recognizes that any of the following can be considered domestic violence:
- Terroristic threats
- Kidnapping, criminal restraint and false imprisonment
- Sexual assault, criminal sexual contact and lewdness
- Criminal mischief
- Burglary and criminal trespass
- Harassment and stalking
New Jersey domestic violence laws are meant to protect certain classes including minors, spouses, fiancés (those in a dating relationship) and other members of a household, including elderly parents or relatives.
Certain types of abuse, such as physical abuse, can leave marks and scars. Other types of abuse, such as verbal and emotional abuse, may be harder for outsiders to detect.
According to Safe Horizon - the largest non-profit victim services agency in the United States – domestic abuse, or domestic violence, is a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence.
Verbal abuse can also be considered domestic violence and can include acts such as:
- Humiliation or yelling
- Putting down or ignoring one’s opinions and/or accomplishments
According to the online resource HealthyPlace.com, emotional or “psychological” abuse signs and symptoms may start small at first, but before long, the abuse may increase. Some of the signs of emotional abuse are:
- Name calling, yelling and insults
- Threatening the person or threatening to take away something that is important to him or her
- Isolating an individual from meaningful activist or events
It is also important to note that there is a difference between angry outbursts that occur from time to time and emotional abuse. Of course, there will be occasions when an individual will get upset and use harsh or negative words when speaking to another while angry. However, emotional abuse is more of an ongoing behavior that is geared toward manipulating or controlling someone.
Individuals should also be aware that under a recent 2015 amendment to New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, criminal coercion is also a form of domestic violence, which can include a number of acts, such as threatening to expose secrets that might lead to a person being ridiculed or hated, threatening to withhold or share information with others, or any other kind of act that is geared toward harming a person’s safety, health, business, financial standing, reputation or career, among other things.
Unfortunately, some complaints of domestic violence are fraudulent, as they are used to intimidate, retaliate or obtain an advantage in various types of disputes, including custody, visitation and/or financial litigation. At Helmer, Conley and Kasselman, P.A., our New Jersey family lawyers understand the serious nature of domestic violence. Contact our office today to learn how we can help.