As many of our readers have heard, through watching or reading the news, the Jodi Arias trial has our country buzzing with talk about one of the most brutal and controversial murders reported in 2013. According to news reports, Arias killed her boyfriend, Travis Alexander, by stabbing him in the abdomen and back 27 times, slitting his throat from ear to ear, and shooting him in the head. Throughout the course of the trial, psychology experts have been brought in to provide their expert opinion regarding the motives and reasoning behind Arias’ bizarre actions. Among the many disturbing parts of this case include Arias’ claim that she was a victim of domestic violence during her relationship with Alexander, and her murder was simply an act of self-defense. While the jury decides on the legitimacy of her claim, it is important for us to be aware of what qualifies as domestic violence, and how to leave an abusive relationship. The following describes the criteria used by Illinois law in determining domestic violence:
Directed towards family or household members. In order for someone to be convicted of domestic violence, he must be guilty of committing at least one of many crimes against a family or household member. This can include spouses, former spouses, children, parents, stepchildren, or any other person related by blood, marriage, or prior marriage. Persons who share or have at one time shared a place of residence can also be included in this category.
Physical abuse or harassment. While physical abuse may be easy to define, the lines of harassment can sometimes be blurred. Illinois statute describes harassment as behavior by the perpetrator that causes emotional distress in the victim. Examples of such harassment can include repeatedly telephoning the victim, following the victim to his place of work/school, and threatening any type of physical force, confinement, or restraint.
Intimidation of a dependent. This is the term used to describe the forcing of a dependent individual to witness the abuse of a family or household member. A dependent can be described as someone who is a dependent because of his age, health, or disability. For the intimidation of the dependent to be considered domestic violence, the victim of the abuse need not be a family or household member.
Interference with personal liberty or willful deprivation. Interfering with personal liberty can be a nasty psychological game, in which the abuser holds all power. While the victim may not be experiencing physical abuse or harassment, per se, he or she may be experiencing an interference with their rights as a human being. This interference comes in the form of physical abuse, harassment, intimidation, or willful deprivation, for the purpose of forcing a victim to engage in behavior that he does not desire to engage in, or forcing a victim to refrain from engaging in behavior that he has the right to engage in.
If you are currently dealing with a domestic violence issue, please feel free to contact the Law Office of Bradley R. Tengler in Rockford, IL at 815-981-4859 for a free consultation. Please note, the above does not constitute legal advice. Please discuss your specific rights with an attorney in your own jurisdiction.