NORTH BRUNSWICK DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RESPONSE TEAM
Love Shouldn't Hurt
NORTH BRUNSWICK POLICE
Emergency Call: 911
24 hour confidential counseling
and assistance for victims of
domestic violence and their families.
THE PREVENTION OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT
DOES THIS LAW APPLY TO ME AND MY SITUATION?
This law applies to you if you are: a person 18 years of age or older, an emancipated minor subjected to domestic violence by a spouse, former spouse, a present or former household member, or someone with whom you have a child in common. This law also applies if you are subjected to domestic violence within a dating relationship, regardless of your age (under or over 18).
You do not have to be married or living with the abuser in order to be protected.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I AM THE VICTIM OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE UNDER THIS LAW?
You are the victim of domestic violence if you have experienced:
- beatings or physical attacks such as kicking, slapping, punching, or hair pulling;
- threats that make you fear serious injury to yourself for your children;
- threats that make you fear for your life;
- imprisonment within your own home or at another location;
- forced sexual contact or rape under threats of harm to yourself or someone you care about;
- embarrassment or alarm because of lewd or shocking behavior;
- damage to your personal property;
- forced entry into your home, with or without a weapon;
- threats with a weapon such as a gun or knife; and
- repeated verbal humiliation and attacks.
WHAT LEGAL REMEDIES CAN I SEEK IF I HAVE BEEN A VICTIM OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
You have the right to file a civil complaint, a criminal complaint or both.
Domestic violence is recognized as a serious life-threatening crime. The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act was enacted to protect you. It is your right to use the law.
THE LEGAL PROCESS
WHAT IS A CIVIL COMPLAINT?
In a civil action you are asking the court to resolve a conflict between you and the person abusing you. You are not asking the court to punish that person for breaking the law. One of the protections available to you in a civil action is a civil restraining order.
WHAT IS A CIVIL RESTRAINING ORDER?
A civil restraining order, called a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), is a legally enforceable document which, among other things, limits the physical contact between you and the person abusing you.
When filing for a TRO in a domestic violence situation, you may request the following:
- that the defendant (the person who attacked you) be prohibited from harassing you or your relatives;
- that the defendant be prohibited from entering your residence, property, place of employment or school; that you retain custody of any children and receive child support;
- that the day, time and circumstances of any visitation with the children are convenient for you, or that no visitation be granted;
- that you be reimbursed for any loss of earnings, out-of-pocket medical expenses, moving costs and attorney's fees incurred as a result of the abuse;
- that the defendant receive professional domestic violence counseling; and
- that the defendant is prohibited from following, stalking, or threatening to harm, stalk or follow you.
DO I ALSO HAVE THE RIGHT TO FILE A CRIMINAL COMPLAINT IF I CHOOSE?
YES. A criminal complaint accuses the abuser of committing a crime. The new Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act lists acts which are considered to be crimes against the victim. They are:
- Terroristic Threats
- Criminal Restraint
- False Imprisonment
- Assault (both simple assault and aggravated assault)
- Criminal Sexual Contact
- Criminal Mischief
- Criminal Trespass
SHOULD I CALL THE POLICE?
YES! Domestic violence is a serious crime and the police must respond to your calls - no matter how many times you call them. Under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, it is the duty of the police officer who responds to a domestic violence call to enforce the law and to protect the victim.
The police are required by law to help you and to give you information about your rights. Among other things, the police must write a report. Be sure to tell the officer all the details. Read the report carefully and correct any mistakes. BE SURE TO GET THE OFFICER'S NAME AND BADGE NUMBER.
THE POLICE MUST ARREST YOUR ABUSER AND SIGN A COMPLAINT IN THE FOLLOWING SITUATIONS:
- when you have signs of injury;
- when there is reason to believe a weapon was involved;
- when your abuser has violated an existing restraining order, even though there is no violence at the time of the violation; and
- when there is a warrant for the abuser's arrest on any other charge.
If you show no indication of having suffered bodily injury, but tell the officer that an injury has occurred, the officer at the scene should consider other factors to determine if there is a reason to make an arrest. The following are other factors that the police officer should consider: 1.) the injury could be internal and painful or 2.) it could be on an area on your body that you do not feel comfortable in exposing.
If you act with reasonable force in self defense against an attacker, and you both show signs of injury, you should not be arrested or charged with a domestic violence offense. The officer at the scene should consider the nature and extent of the injuries, along with any previous history of reported incidents.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I HAVE A RESTRAINING ORDER AND MY ABUSER STILL DOESN'T LEAVE ME ALONE?
If your abuser does not obey the restraining order, call the police immediately. Have the restraining order ready to show them. Your abuser can be arrested. You have the right to call the police as often as you need to when you are in danger from your attacker.
BE PREPARED FOR EMERGENCIES
STEPS FOR YOUR PROTECTION:
If you have experienced abuse, or if you fear the threat of abuse, you may want to be prepared in case it is necessary for you and your children to leave home quickly. Here are some basic steps you can take beforehand:
Pack a suitcase with a change of clothes for yourself and your children and some personal articles such as a comb, toothbrush, etc. Also include an extra set of car keys, money, personal papers such as Social Security cards or numbers, your driver's license, marriage certificate, any restraining orders, documentation of car ownership, plus any savings and checking account books. Store the suitcase in the home of a friend, neighbor, at work or hide it in your house where it won't be found by anyone and where you can get to it easily.
Make a list of names and telephone numbers of police, 911, friends, family, local shelters or your employer. Keep this list at work and in the suitcase.
Plan for transportation to a safe place.
PLAN AHEAD. You can get advice and counseling from the domestic violence program near you. Find out the number of your local program by calling 1-800-572-SAFE. This is a BILINGUAL, STATEWIDE TOLL-FREE HOTLINE AND IS ANSWERED 24-HOURS A DAY, 7 DAYS A WEEK. IT IS ALSO TDD ACCESSIBLE.
Domestic violence programs offer various services including emergency shelter, court advocacy, counseling, crisis hotlines, children's programs, support groups and referrals. Make sure you are in a safe place when you call for help.
Sometimes the abuse and the violence will get worse after you take some protective action like calling the police or going to a shelter. Be aware that this can happen. Proceed with safety in mind, whatever you choose to do.
IF YOU NEED IMMEDIATE HELP, CALL THE POLICE OR 911. (911 calls are recorded and can be used as irrefutable evidence in trials.)
If you need to consult a lawyer and don't know how to find one, contact your County Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service. Look under "Lawyer Referral Service" in the yellow pages of your phone book. They may charge a small fee. You can also contact your county's Legal Aid Society. It is a good idea to obtain these numbers in advance. Keep them with you in your wallet or in a small address book.
NEED FURTHER ASSISTANCE?
North Brunswick Domestic
Violence Response Team
(dispatched by North Brunswick Police Department)
Women Aware 24 Hour Hotline
Division of Youth & Family Service
24 Hour Hotline
NJ Domestic Violence Hotline
(confidential, bilingual, TDD-accessible)
NJ Coalition to End Domestic Violence
Rape Crisis Center
24-hour Toll Free
North Brunswick Food Bank
THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR ABUSE!
This project is funded by the NJ STOP Violence Against Women Grants Program, Division of Criminal Justice, State Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy through a federal grant from the US Dept. of Justice, Violence Against Women Grants Office.