Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Knowing the Signs

Domestic Violence: Understanding Your Legal Rights

Domestic violence is a pervasive issue that affects countless families across the United States, including right here in New Mexico. At Sutherland Family Law, we have seen first hand the profound impact that domestic violence has on individuals, children, and families. Whether you or someone you know has or is currently experiencing domestic violence, we are here to support. This article aims to raise awareness on the signs of domestic violence and its impacts, as well as to empower individuals with knowledge about the legal protections available in New Mexico.

The Reality of Domestic Violence

While it may seem straightforward, it’s important to explore the different shapes that domestic violence can take. Domestic violence encompasses a range of abusive behaviors, including but not limited to economic manipulation, emotional abuse, and physical violence.

Oftentimes, domestic violence occurs within the context of an intimate relationship or within close family dynamics. Victims of domestic violence often suffer in silence, enduring emotional and physical trauma that have far-reaching consequences on overall health and well-being. Here are some examples of devastating consequences associated with domestic violence:

  • Physical Health Effects
    • Individuals experiencing domestic violence often suffer physical injuries ranging from cuts, broken bones, bruises, to even more severe trauma. Over time, physical abuse can develop into chronic health issues such as long term disability, gastrointestinal problems, and chronic pain.
  • Emotional and Psychological Consequences
    • Many survivors of domestic violence develop symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They may also experience isolation, low self-esteem, and anxiety and depression. The constant fear and stress caused by domestic violence can have severe implications for mental health.
  • Economic Impact
    • It is not uncommon for abusers to assert financial control over their victims. Individuals may develop a financial dependency on their abuser as a result, making it difficult for them to maintain financial independence. Additionally, victims could miss work due to emotional distress or physical injury, leading to a loss of income and greater economic instability.
  • Barriers to Seeking Help
    • Oftentimes, victims of domestic abuse are afraid to seek help due to fear that their abuser will retaliate and cause further harm. What’s worse, society’s stigma on domestic violence may create shame and reluctance to disclose their situation to others.
  • Impact on Families
    • Notably, domestic violence affects more than the victim; it deeply impacts the entire family. Children growing up in homes where domestic violence is present often suffer emotionally and psychologically. Witnessing violence between parents or other family figures, whether emotional or physical, can manifest as behavioral issues, depression, and anxiety in children. Domestic violence creates an unsafe and unhealthy living environment for a child, which can result in hindering the child’s sense of security and overall development.

Understanding Your Legal Rights in New Mexico

Fortunately, New Mexico recognizes the severity of domestic violence and takes it very seriously. From a legal standpoint, New Mexico has implemented various protections to help victims get away from dangerous situations and seek justice. Here are a few vital legal aspects victims of domestic violence should be aware of when breaking away from abusive situations:

1. Protection Orders

In New Mexico, individuals can obtain restraining orders against individuals who pose a threat to themselves or their families. Also known as Orders of Protection or Domestic Violence Protection Orders, victims can be sure that their abusers are legally kept away from them and their children. These orders can provide immediate relief and legal protection, leading to physical and emotional safety.

To obtain a restraining order, you will need to visit your local courthouse, complete the necessary paperwork, and explain the reasons for pursuing protection. Your request will then be reviewed by the court and, if granted, you will be provided with the necessary legal protection.

To learn more about obtaining a restraining order, click here or contact our team of experienced attorneys at Sutherland Family Law.

2. Divorce and Custody

When it comes to divorce and custody measures, domestic violence victims have a variety of legal options available to protect them and the interests of their children. In New Mexico, the court considers domestic violence as a significant factor when determining custody.

If you are in the process of filing for divorce and have concerns about your own safety or the safety of your children, it is absolutely crucial that you consult with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the legal process and sufficiently advocate for your rights.

3. Criminal Charges

Perpetrators of domestic violence could likely face criminal charges, which may include battery, assault, or harassment. Depending on the nature and severity of their actions, law enforcement and the justice system in New Mexico take these cases very seriously.

If you believe a crime has been committed, it is extremely important to contact law enforcement immediately. After they are contacted, an investigation will be conducted, and if there is sufficient evidence, you will have the option to file criminal charges against the abuser. Penalties and prosecution for these crimes typically vary depending on the severity of abuse and the circumstances.

4. Support Services

We are grateful that New Mexico offers a wide range of support services for victims of domestic violence. These include counseling, access to shelters, advocacy groups dedicated to supporting domestic abuse survivors break out of abusive situations, and legal aid organizations. Rebuilding your life as a domestic abuse survivor can be challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone. Take advantage of these resources and reach out for emotional support.

Contact Sutherland Family Law

Undoubtedly, domestic violence is a grave issue that has innumerable impacts on the victim and their family. At Sutherland Family Law, we are committed to supporting individuals affected by domestic violence by providing legal guidance and representation.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, it is critical to seek professional support immediately. You don’t have to suffer in silence. Reach out to local support organizations and legal professionals that can walk you through the process of restoring safety.

Remember, you have rights. Our team at Sutherland Family Law is ready to support you toward a life free of domestic violence. Contact us today to learn more.