When you think of domestic violence in Hawaii, the picture that pops into your head might be one of a husband battering a wife. Spouse abuse certainly is one way this crime manifests in our culture, but it is not that's the only scenario to which the term can be applied.
Abuse can take many forms, and by legal definition, the perpetrators and victims can be anyone in the family. That would include spouses (current or former), significant others, children, parents, blood relatives or even unrelated individuals living under the same roof.
Scope of abuse can be broad
There are different ways for victims to secure protections offered by the law. It's always best to consult an experienced attorney to understand what options might be available, but more importantly, it's important to understand that domestic violence can take many shapes. Taking counter measures depends on being able to recognize the crime when it happens and acknowledge that help is needed.
There is no question that the problem of domestic violence deserves attention. No less than the U.S. Surgeon General has declared that it is the top health concern today across the country. Some perpetrators might not even know they are guilty of abuse, and unfortunately, too many victims fail to seek help because they don't appreciate they can.
The U.S. Department of Justice defines domestic violence as, "A pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship." The abuse can be physical, emotional or psychological, sexual, or even economic. Any behavior intended to intimidate, manipulate, isolate, threaten or harm counts. The key element in the definition is the "pattern" of behavior.
Physical abuse can be as seemingly innocuous as pinches or as serious as cutting or punching. It might also include denying a victim medical care or forcing them to take drugs or alcohol.
Psychological or emotional abuse may be the most insidious form of violence because it can be hard to prove. Experts agree, though, that constant belittling of a victim, interfering in their lives or other relationships amount to domestic violence. Psychological abuse might involve intimidation or isolating the victim. If the abuser threatens harm to himself or herself, that could be considered manipulative.
Domestic violence and abuse is not exclusive to a particular socio-economic level, race, religion or gender. Anyone can be a victim and every victim has the right to be protected.