October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). The Housing and Human Services Unit would like you to be aware about the dangers and signs of domestic violence. Please take a moment to learn how you or someone you know can seek help.
By Leslyn Barrow
, Human Services Specialist
Domestic violence is a pattern of physically, sexually, verbally and/or emotionally abusive behaviors used by one individual to assert power or maintain control over another in the context of an intimate or family relationship. Behaviors may also include harassment, threat or harm.
Some of the signs of abusive behavior and domestic violence may include:
- Emotional abuse, for example, yelling, making insults or threats, etc.
- Control your access to money
- Acting with excessive jealousy or possessiveness
- Isolating of the victim from family, friends, or social outlets
- Throwing or breaking objects in the victim’s presence
- Pressuring the victim to perform uncomfortable sexual acts
- Physical abuse such as slapping, punching, pushing or choking
Abuse often follows a cycle:
- Tension builds. Your partner may accuse you of things or threaten you.
- Your partner attacks. This violence can get worse over time.
- Things calm down. Your partner may regret it and promise it won’t happen again. Things may even be great for a while.
Abuse can happen to minors, one partner by another, the elderly, a woman, or a man of any race, ethnicity, age, income, religion or sexual orientation. If you are being abused or are worried about someone you know who is being abused, there is help.
Are there domestic violence laws in Virginia?
Yes, there are a number of criminal and civil laws in Virginia to protect victims of domestic violence. A person who threatens physical violence or commits an act of assault and battery against a family or household member, an act of stalking, or a sexual offense is subject to criminal prosecution.
Protective orders are available to victims of family abuse, stalking, sexual battery, aggravated sexual battery, or serious bodily injury.
- An Emergency Protective Order (EPO) may be issued by a judge or magistrate for up to three days to protect the immediate health and safety of a victim. Requests are made by contacting the Arlington County Magistrate office at 703-228-3962/TTY 711.
- A Preliminary Protective Order lasts up to 15 days and may order the abuser to stop abusive or threatening behaviors and possibly leave a shared residence. Petition Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court before expiration of EPO. City residents may contact Falls Church Court Services Unit at 703-241-7630/TTY 711.
- A “Final” Protective Order can be issued by a judge for up to 2 years and may contain a number of provisions to protect a victim and his or her children.
How to get help:
Help is available to victims of domestic violence from a number of agencies and organizations.
- A local domestic violence program can provide you with support, information, and/or safe shelter for you and your children. The program can also assist you with safety planning and may also provide an advocate to go with you to court.
- A local legal aid program may be able to offer you legal assistance or information on protective order, custody, visitation, or divorce matters, as well as immigration issues. Legal Services of Northern Virginia; 703-778-6800.
- The court service unit/intake officer at the local Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court can assist you in completing the necessary forms for protective orders and provide you additional information on court procedures. City residents may contact Falls Church Court Services Unit at 703-241-7630/TTY 711.
If you need additional information, please call Housing and Human Services at 703-248-5005 (TTY 711), or visit the City of Falls Church Domestic Violence Services webpage.
For additional resources and events pertaining to Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), please visit the Fairfax County DVAM events webpage.