Lis and the Single Girl: The Law Behind Domestic Abuse

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Single and fabulous? Well then this is the column for you!

Ever wish you had your own personal Carrie Bradshaw to answer your questions — not just about what to do if your boyfriend dumps you via text message — but serious issues that confront us? This special daily edition of “Lis on Law” will address topics that single women are faced with and that everybody wonders about — but no one has time to figure out.

Between work, working out, dating and maintaining a social life, it’s tough to find time to do much else. So, read up and prepare to be fully armed for brunch this weekend with your friends with some super conversation topics! Your pals will be amazed!

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Lis, my boyfriend has been abusing me for years but recently it’s gotten worse. When does the law intervene? What are my options?

Ladies, abuse is a serious issue that I’d like to take some time to discuss. Believe it or not, at one time, domestic abuse was not considered a problem. Luckily today, the laws have evolved to recognize the harm this causes women (and some men).

Domestic abuse can rear its ugly head in many different forms — physical, sexual, or emotional to name a few. Physical abuse may include hitting, threatening or attacking. Sexual abuse can range from forcing you to have sex, to making you wear clothes that make you feel uncomfortable. Emotional abuse can be anything from insulting you, to ignoring you, to attacking your pets. There is NO acceptable excuse for abuse! The abuser is the only person responsible for the abuse, and he is the ONLY person who can make it stop.

If the abuse is minimal and you don’t feel like you are really in danger, you can ask family or friends for support, go to counseling with your boyfriend (or spouse), move out temporarily until you and the abuser can resolve your issues peaceably, get a divorce or go to a shelter for abuse victims. However, if the abuse is escalated to a point where you feel you are in real danger, there are a few legal avenues you may pursue.

First, file assault charges. This would entail going to the police and making a statement about what happened. You may need a medical examination if you have sustained any injuries. Before you leave the station, make sure you know: the name of the investigating officer, the police station, your case number, and a phone number you can call to check on the status of the investigation. Note that it's illegal if a police officer refuses to take statements or open dockets for an abuse victim. A police officer is not allowed to refuse to open a docket for you. If an officer is unhelpful, ask to speak to his/her superior, or a station commander. The police are obligated to investigate all complaints made.

Tomorrow, I’ll give you another legal avenue to combat domestic violence.

To learn more about domestic violence call the National Domestic Violence Hotline:
1-800-799-SAFE (7233)



* Disclaimer

The information contained in this Web site feature entitled “LIS ON LAW,” is provided as a service to visitors of, and does not constitute legal advice or establish an attorney client relationship. FOX NEWS NETWORK, LLC makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this web site feature and its associated sites. Nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of your own counsel.

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Lis Wiehl joined FOX News Channel as a legal analyst in October 2001. She is currently a professor of law at the New York Law School. Wiehl received her undergraduate degree from Barnard College in 1983 and received her Master of Arts in Literature from the University of Queensland in 1985. In addition, she earned her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1987. Lis is also the author of The 51% Minority — How Women Still Are Not Equal and What You Can Do About It. (Watch the Video) To read the rest of Lis's bio, click here.