Broadly defined, domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically; however, the one constant component of domestic violence is one partner's consistent efforts to maintain power and control over the other.
Domestic violence is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality. It is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior that is only a fraction of a systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence can result in physical injury, psychological trauma, and in severe cases, even death. The devastating physical, emotional, and psychological consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and last a lifetime (NCADV).
Virginia code section 18.2-57.2 covers the criminal law aspects of domestic violence. Under this section, the law is defined to include not only spouses as potential offenders, but can also include family members, household members, live in boyfriends or girlfriends, or those who are no longer living together but have a child in common. The Gloucester County Sheriff's Office considers domestic and family violence complaints as a high priority call, and the nature and seriousness of these types of crimes are not mitigated because of the relationships and living arrangements of those involved.
When responding to a domestic call, office personnel shall restore order, arrest suspects (when probable cause exists that a crime has occurred), provide for the safety and security of the victim(s) involved, and help individuals contact appropriate agencies for immediate help and to help prevent future occurrences.
For local, regional, and national assistance and information for domestic violence victims, please see the following phone numbers and links:
- For a safe place to stay, contact the Laurel Shelter at 804-694-5552.
- For information about your case, contact the Gloucester Commonwealth Attorney at 804-693-4995.
- If you are the victim of a reported domestic violence case and need additional help, contact the Victim/Witness Assistance Program at 804-693-1227.
- For help with counseling and mental health needs, contact the Middle Peninsula Northern Neck Counseling Center at 804-693-5057.
- View the Virginia Domestic Violence Code.
- Read a listing of state-wide domestic violence resources (PDF).
- Visit the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence website.
For anonymous, confidential help day or night, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233), 800-787-3224 (TTY). They also offer online chat between the hours of 7 and 2 a.m. Central time (6 to 1 a.m. Eastern)