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  1. #1
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    Default Victim of a DV

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: New Jersey

    I am male and has been a victim of domestic violence. I am going to try and make this as short and to the point. The last incident occured about a month ago when my childs mother/live-in girlfriend was arrested and charged with simple assault, possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose and terroristic threats set at $5,000 bail. She held me in my house refusing to let me leave by blocking the exit and taking the key to my car. I tried to leave by walking at one point but my 7 year old child ran out screaming crying begging me not to leave because of his fear for her. She then came outside and grabbed a tree branch again not letting me leave. At this point I couldn't leave if I wanted to because of the fear of saftey for my child. This arguement between us went on for about 7 hours. Many times during this arguement she grabbed knifes threating to harm me and herself. At one point standing over me telling me she would hurt me like I hurt her and other times holding the knife to her arm threating to kill herself. This was all done in front of our child and he was the one who eventually got her cell phone and called 911. I was punched, burned with a cigarette, bitten, and scratched. None of my injuries were witnessed on the report by officers and she didn't have any. In the police report she admits to grabbing knifes with no intent to harm but just threating me.
    After her being removed by the police her parents immediatley posted her bail then drove her back to our house. We also have a friend who lives with us who wasn't at the house all day but returned before her getting released from custody. When she came back she spit in my face and was still very angry (obviously). Our roommate went outside and called the police to remove her so she went after him. He claims that she punched him in the face but they weren't any marks and he only filed a complaint without pressing charges. The police told her she had to leave for the night and then her parents took her back to their house with them. I calmed her down and told her it would be ok if she took our child with her to her parents house. They had called the police on her later that night for a reason I'm not fully aware of but she wasn't arrested or charged with anything. I believe another sucide threat but again I'm not certian.
    The next morning she was again driven to our house by her parents and they said they did it because she was threating to walk to my house with my son. They reside about 15 miles away from my house. I was just waking up when she came back and was getting ready to file a tro against her for actions she commited the night prior. She tried again not to let me leave. She put a cigaretee out on her hand and threating to throw her self down the stairs. This time I called the police. After there arrival they told me this was her residence also and she didn't commit any crimes that they could identify besides my hear say so she didn't have to leave and they couldn't arrest her. My son then told the officers she said she was going to throw herself down the stairs. They then advised me to take my son and leave and they were going to call for her to be transported to a hospital for evaluation. About two years prior she was sent to crisis centers on two differnt occasions for similar domestic violences against me but was released immediatly after evaluation. I never pressed charges on her for these charges but did make signed statements. This time she was commited for ten days and I later found out in our final restraining order hearing diagnosed with a mental illness. She didn't disclose what mental illness this was.
    After her release from the hospital we had our hearing for my final restraining order and it was granted to me. During this hearing she was very calm and stated she had a mental break down, didn't remember threating me while holding a knife and said anything she did was self-defense. Of course the judge seen an immediate danger that domestic violence had occured so my fro was granted. She also had to attend anger management courses and more pshcoligical exams with reports turned over to the court. Then I later found out four days prior to this hearing she filed simple assualt charges against me stating I choked her and squezzed her ribs so hard she was unable to breathe. These charges are still pending against me.
    About two weeks after my final restraining order hearing she went and filed a tro against me. During this hearing the judge denied her request for a fro and found her not to be creditable for anything she said because she admitted to not remebering everything as it happened exactly, being intoxicated during one of the instances and having being diagnosed with a mental illness and without her medicine "can act like a loonatic". The judge found no reason to doubt any of my testmony and found no reason for me to present any fear of danger to her.
    She has one previous 5th degree felony conviction for consperiacy and intent to distribute 100 ectacy pills which is nine years old. she was sentenced to three years probation for this. Two years ago found guilty of marijuana possession under 50 grams.
    Now for my questions. I want her to be held accountable for her actions because she has gotten away with this too many times. But I dont want my son to have to testify against his mother. I fear she will resent him for it. Will the prosecuters make him testify? This is her first DV assualt charge so do you think any of these charges will hold up in superior court and not get dropped to municpal court? Not that I'm trying to get vengence on I her but want her to completely understand the severity of these crimes especially since they were committed in front of our child.
    I understand any answers to this post is not legal advise. Please tell me what your opinions are of the outcome of her trial and any suggestions for me would also be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Victim of a DV

    Quote Quoting jms
    View Post
    I am male and has been a victim of domestic violence. I am going to try and make this as short and to the point. The last incident occured about a month ago when my childs mother/live-in girlfriend was arrested and charged with simple assault, possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose and terroristic threats set at $5,000 bail. She held me in my house refusing to let me leave by blocking the exit and taking the key to my car. I tried to leave by walking at one point but my 7 year old child ran out screaming crying begging me not to leave because of his fear for her. She then came outside and grabbed a tree branch again not letting me leave. At this point I couldn't leave if I wanted to because of the fear of saftey for my child.
    And yet later, you allowed her to take the child with her???????????

    This arguement between us went on for about 7 hours.
    For how much of that 7 hours were you attempting to leave or call police?


    Many times during this arguement she grabbed knifes threating to harm me and herself. At one point standing over me telling me she would hurt me like I hurt her and other times holding the knife to her arm threating to kill herself. This was all done in front of our child and he was the one who eventually got her cell phone and called 911.
    And you STILL allowed her to take with child with her later? That's not going to bode well for the child remaining with EITHER of you. Google the term "failure to protect", and if you take nothing else away from these boards, understand that in the mind of the court, no decent parent would willfully and knowingly place their child with someone committing these actions. You're either afraid for the safety of the child, or you're not. That you were willing to let mom take off with the child can bite you in two ways: it can either make the telling of events questionable (juries don't often figure that a parent would let a suicidal and assaultive subject take their child), or, it can cause CPS to remove the child from the care of an adult willing to place the child in danger in such a way.

    I was punched, burned with a cigarette, bitten, and scratched. None of my injuries were witnessed on the report by officers and she didn't have any. In the police report she admits to grabbing knifes with no intent to harm but just threating me.
    That's still an assault with a deadly weapon. Serious charges there.


    After her being removed by the police her parents immediatley posted her bail then drove her back to our house. We also have a friend who lives with us who wasn't at the house all day but returned before her getting released from custody. When she came back she spit in my face and was still very angry (obviously). Our roommate went outside and called the police to remove her so she went after him. He claims that she punched him in the face but they weren't any marks and he only filed a complaint without pressing charges. The police told her she had to leave for the night and then her parents took her back to their house with them.
    Time's right for an emergency restraining order.

    I calmed her down and told her it would be ok if she took our child with her to her parents house.
    Biggest mistake of this entire incident. You don't let children stay in the care of violent and potentially suicidal people. Not unless you have some affinity for attending multiple funerals. Happens every day. Everyone figures it won't be THEIR kids.


    They had called the police on her later that night for a reason I'm not fully aware of but she wasn't arrested or charged with anything. I believe another sucide threat but again I'm not certian.
    Great. While the child was with them. Imagine how terrorizing this is for the child.

    The next morning she was again driven to our house by her parents and they said they did it because she was threating to walk to my house with my son.
    Is everyone associated with this woman just incredibly stupid, or what? See why she had NO business taking the child with her????

    They reside about 15 miles away from my house. I was just waking up when she came back and was getting ready to file a tro against her for actions she commited the night prior.
    A glimer of hope here.

    She tried again not to let me leave. She put a cigaretee out on her hand and threating to throw her self down the stairs. This time I called the police. After there arrival they told me this was her residence also and she didn't commit any crimes that they could identify besides my hear say so she didn't have to leave and they couldn't arrest her. My son then told the officers she said she was going to throw herself down the stairs. They then advised me to take my son and leave and they were going to call for her to be transported to a hospital for evaluation.
    At least the mental health hold would give you time to get to court for the TRO.

    About two years prior she was sent to crisis centers on two differnt occasions for similar domestic violences against me but was released immediatly after evaluation.
    And what did you expect would CHANGE by staying with her? The dynamic of most domestic violence is that is escalates over time. When there are mental health issues and suicidal ideologies that manifest by someone threatening to kill themselves when they don't know what else will work, there are only so many ways to escalate that until you start getting actual suicide attempts or successes. Not what you want a child around. Ever. People are too often willing to kill their own children to spite their significant other, or, to decide to simply take the children "to heaven" WITH them.


    I never pressed charges on her for these charges but did make signed statements. This time she was commited for ten days and I later found out in our final restraining order hearing diagnosed with a mental illness. She didn't disclose what mental illness this was.
    It's usually more than one. And given the amount of emotional trauma the child here has been exposed to, you can anticipate severe problems of PTSD, depression, and other issue for the child, so get the child some help QUICKLY.

    After her release from the hospital we had our hearing for my final restraining order and it was granted to me.
    Did it INCLUDE temporary custody of the child, or include no contact with the child? Remember, you're dealing with a woman willing to hurt herself to get her way - that's a #1 red flag for her potential to harm the child in order to manipulate or punish you. Now that she's getting some consequences for her actions, you need to anticipate backlash and retaliation.

    During this hearing she was very calm
    Medication can do that.

    and stated she had a mental break down, didn't remember threating me while holding a knife and said anything she did was self-defense. Of course the judge seen an immediate danger that domestic violence had occured so my fro was granted. She also had to attend anger management courses and more pshcoligical exams with reports turned over to the court.
    That's an excellent start.


    Then I later found out four days prior to this hearing she filed simple assualt charges against me stating I choked her and squezzed her ribs so hard she was unable to breathe. These charges are still pending against me.
    Are you implying that she made up an incident that never happened....or......?


    About two weeks after my final restraining order hearing she went and filed a tro against me. During this hearing the judge denied her request for a fro and found her not to be creditable for anything she said because she admitted to not remebering everything as it happened exactly, being intoxicated during one of the instances and having being diagnosed with a mental illness and without her medicine "can act like a loonatic". The judge found no reason to doubt any of my testmony and found no reason for me to present any fear of danger to her.
    Your order against her is the important one (at least in regards to the side of the story we're getting). But if you haven't figured out by now that the two of you have no business around each other.....

    She has one previous 5th degree felony conviction for consperiacy and intent to distribute 100 ectacy pills which is nine years old.
    So you knew she was a convicted felon when you decided to have a child with her. That might impact any sentencing she receives for additional criminal charges, but this element isn't likely to play a factor in child custody. Not with all the allegations of violence which will grab the court's and CPS's attention.

    [she was sentenced to three years probation for this. Two years ago found guilty of marijuana possession under 50 grams.
    Was her marijuana use/possession a total surprise to you? Was the child around it?


    Now for my questions. I want her to be held accountable for her actions because she has gotten away with this too many times.
    Finally. The only way it's going to happen is if you're ready to draw a line in the sand.

    But I dont want my son to have to testify against his mother. I fear she will resent him for it.
    She should have thought about that ahead of time. Actions have consequences - including changing your children's opinions of you.


    Will the prosecuters make him testify?
    Only the prosecutor can answer that. If the child was witness to events, it's entirely possible. Again, see why staying in these types of relationships only makes things WORSE as they escalate?


    This is her first DV assualt charge so do you think any of these charges will hold up in superior court and not get dropped to municpal court?
    I see no reason why they'd be moved.


    Not that I'm trying to get vengence on I her but want her to completely understand the severity of these crimes especially since they were committed in front of our child.
    What are your plans for keeping the child safe AFTER these events? If mom's not behind bars, there needs to be a plan AND legal barrier to keep mom from being alone with the child - whether you accomplish that via restraining orders , supervised visitation as part of a divorce action, or moving to the moon, this appears to be a textbook case where placing the child in mom's care is a recipe for disaster.

    I understand any answers to this post is not legal advise. Please tell me what your opinions are of the outcome of her trial and any suggestions for me would also be greatly appreciated.
    We can only guess at outcomes for the trial. We don't have the exact list of charges she's facing, nor copies of the evidence that the state plans to use against her. On the low end, with no priors for DV, and an overloaded court system prone to pleading down such cases, it's possible she could walk with time served, probation including court ordered counseling, plus the restraining order. On the other end, she could be facing one or more lower level felonies and could potentially be sentenced to a year or more in state prison. The case could take many months to work its way through all the steps and processes.

    While that's happening, you'll need to figure out what to do with this relationship, understanding that now that there are criminal charges, and the child was present during at least some of them, the situation is ripe for the child to be REMOVED from BOTH of you. So a few suggestions:

    1) nail down your legal status as the child's father and establish LEGAL custody of the child - if you're NOT 100% the father in the eyes of the COURT, then you'll have little ability to protect the child down the road, THEN you need a court's order putting the child in your custody and either denying visitation or making visitation with mom supervised - and EVERYONE who watches over the child needs to be notified of these events - the last thing you want is mom doing something like picking up the child from school and disappearing (or showing up on the evening news). For help on these steps, you can contact your local Legal Aid Society, any local law schools who often have free help clinics, or your local domestic violence program for a referral. Do NOT wait on this step.

    2) get some help for this child - they've witnessed violence between the two people in the world who are supposed to keep them safe. Please don't underestimate the impact this sort of thing has on a child (of EITHER gender). For kids of that age, the whole world revolves around them, and they find ways to make what happened between you two somehow be THEIR fault. Many domestic violence programs offer specialized counseling for children witnessing violence - so please do your child a favor and get them to talk to someone outside of these events who can give them a safe place to talk about their feelings, guilt, fears, anger, etc. Aside from keeping the child away from any additional violence, this is the most important thing you can do. And do it SOON.

    3) YOU can get some assistance through your local domestic violence program too. They can help you with at least two important things: safety planning, and support. It's important that you understand that a restraining order is only a piece of paper. It can't and won't prevent someone from committing additional acts of violence against you OR the child. It'll only provide police a potential ability to intervene SOONER, or raise penalties for some additional action she takes against you or the child. It absolutely won't stop her from returning to inflict harm or death on you, the child, or herself (to terrorize you). You may also benefit from attending a support group or individial counseling. Ask them what resources are available in your area. You'll be surprised at how many other people have histories that are eerily similar and how similar the challenges, and avenues for change, can be.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Victim of a DV

    [QUOTE=aardvarc;471144]And you STILL allowed her to take with child with her later? That's not going to bode well for the child remaining with EITHER of you. Google the term "failure to protect", and if you take nothing else away from these boards, understand that in the mind of the court, no decent parent would willfully and knowingly place their child with someone committing these actions. You're either afraid for the safety of the child, or you're not. That you were willing to let mom take off with the child can bite you in two ways: it can either make the telling of events questionable (juries don't often figure that a parent would let a suicidal and assaultive subject take their child), or, it can cause CPS to remove the child from the care of an adult willing to place the child in danger in such a way.[QUOTE]


    Catherine is correct. I am not going to justify that allowing your child to be in this environment is right. But, in defense of OP here, it is fair to acknowledge that reasonable people faced with the fear that their significant other (whom they love) might kill themself if they walk away, are hesitant to leave. And, the belief that that person won't kill themself if with the child, is a powerful motivator to send the child with the parent. Just want to point that out, if not in defense, than in possible explanation for this OP

    [QUOTE=aardvarc;471144]Biggest mistake of this entire incident. You don't let children stay in the care of violent and potentially suicidal people. Not unless you have some affinity for attending multiple funerals. Happens every day. Everyone figures it won't be THEIR kids.[QUOTE]


    Again, Catherine is correct with what someone should do. But... see above. Trying to save someone's life, even if terribly misguided, creates very conflicted emotions.

    [QUOTE=aardvarc;471144]And what did you expect would CHANGE by staying with her?
    [QUOTE]

    Well, I can only speculate based on my own experience, but maybe OP expected if he just got her help, changed enough, he would eliminate the violence and mental illness and would get to keep his family.

    It is so easy for readers of this post to judge OP very harshly reading this post, and miss how hard it is for OP to experience this type situation. Doing the right thing when it means possibly putting someone you love in jail and then not talking with them again is actually torture.

    My post is not intended to disparage Catherine. Her advice is spot on and her assessment is correct. But, I think a little empathy for OP, along with the assessment, could be helpful to him.

  4. #4
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    Nov 2010
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    Default Re: Victim of a DV

    I do thank you very much for your advice as it is very helpful and truly appreciate your concern for my childs well being. You are right and I should of got custody of my son when I filed the TRO but I feared how she would act because at this time I didnt know she was being commited into a mental care facility. Like I said before she went to these crisis centers before and always released after 24 hour evaluation period. I also was granted custody after some incidents two years prior because of a DYFS evaluation and awarded me custody because of the fear she could cause irrepairable harm. This was dropped later and I was granted joint custody which is what I still have now.
    When I let her take my son after she posted bail he was also with his grandparents. Again I'm not trying to say what I did was right or make excuses but at the time I felt he would be safe with his grandparents even though his mother was there also. She usually only acts violently to me.
    After she was released from the hospital DYFS opened another case and is still opened. When they came to my house my son was with me and they questioned him of course. I was concerned because he can talk about everything without showing any kind of emotion so I asked them if I should get him counseling. They told me kids that witness these things react in different ways and he didnt find anything alarming for him to require counseling.
    As far as her accusing me of assault NO I never assaulted her. She has taken certian times while she was attacking me and trying to make it like I was attacking her also and she had to do the things she did for self-defense. I think she is trying to use this for her defense in her trial. The things she is saying is I slammed her into a wall and knocked her unconsious during an arguement. What really happened was she came home extremley intoxicated at 2 am and started fighting with me while I was laying in bed. She began hitting me and then grabbed a glass off the end table and was going to hit me with it. I quickly sat up in bed and grabbed her arm to stop her from hitting me. She then stumbled back and fell into the wall and blacked out. I quickly got up and checked to make sure she was breathing ok and her pulse was fine. I picked her up and put her in bed. Then went down stairs and was thinking about calling an ambulance but she came down within 2 minutes and started argueeing with me again. On the police report it says she told the cops about the incident and she admited to hitting me in bed but she says I pushed her. Now she says she didnt hit me and I slammed her into the wall causing a concusion because we were argueing.
    If she goes to jail for this I am fully prepared to get custody of my child. In NJ it is very hard to get custody of a child from his mother unless she is incarserated. As long as she follows all the treatments she is recieving and the hospital has released her saying she is not a harm to herself or others I have no grounds to take him away from his mother. I could of and should of done it while she was being treated in the hospital and I filed the TRO but I highly doubt the judge would go back now and give me custody since he already kept our custody order the way it was.
    Thank you again for your post and appreciate more advice on anything I can and should do.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Victim of a DV


    Well, I can only speculate based on my own experience, but maybe OP expected if he just got her help, changed enough, he would eliminate the violence and mental illness and would get to keep his family.

    It is so easy for readers of this post to judge OP very harshly reading this post, and miss how hard it is for OP to experience this type situation. Doing the right thing when it means possibly putting someone you love in jail and then not talking with them again is actually torture.

    My post is not intended to disparage Catherine. Her advice is spot on and her assessment is correct. But, I think a little empathy for OP, along with the assessment, could be helpful to him.


    Catherine's post was frankly perfect, and needed no further explanation or elaboration. Catherine was empathetic and also provided incredible information.

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