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Physical abuse by a spouse or relative is only one form of family violence. Common forms of family violence are:

  • Physical abuse;
  • Stalking;
  • Threats;
  • Psychological abuse;
  • Forced sexual acts or behavior.

Also known as domestic violence, statutes in most states apply to both physical and emotional abuse. They can extend to threats, stalking and harassment over the phone or at the workplace. Recently, state legislatures have paid closer attention to domestic abuse and have designed detailed laws to protect individuals from family violence by a spouse or relative.

A common response to domestic violence is a court issuing a protective or temporary restraining order that demands an abuser cease all acts of abuse or harassment. The order often will direct the abuser to stay away from the victim’s home or workplace. If the terms are broken, the abuser will face charges that result in incarceration or fines.

Last updated: Sept. 26, 2008

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