Doctors have recently observed that domestic violence survivors are prone to the same neurological condition that retired NFL players are suffering: CTE. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a degenerative condition that causes cognitive decline, loss of muscle and emotional control, headaches, memory loss, and more. CTE is understood to be caused by repeated blows to the head.
While CTE would seem to primarily affect athletes who play contact sports, the results, showing that domestic violence victims frequently suffer from the same condition at similar or higher rates, are troubling. Studies have shown that 60 percent of domestic assault victims are diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries.
Domestic Violence Victims Can Sue their Aggressors
All too often, domestic violence victims feel stuck because they live with their aggressor and fear retaliation for calling the police or taking any action to prevent violent outbursts. While the emotional and mental aspects of domestic violence cannot be overlooked, victims do have legal options when it comes to suing their aggressors.
The first avenue a victim may seek to pursue is through the civil courts by seeking a restraining order. Additionally, victims can pursue matters through the criminal courts. Although the district attorney holds the ultimate say as to whether criminal charges will be brought, when a victim files a police report and indicates to the police that they wish to have charges filed, a criminal matter may be instituted. As part of a criminal case, a victim may seek restitution, which can force the criminal defendant that is found guilty, to pay for the damages they have caused. Generally, these will be limited to actual damages, meaning hospital bills, lost wages and broken physical property.
Domestic Violence Victims Can File Injury Claims Against Their Aggressor
In addition to getting a restraining order and pursuing a criminal action through law enforcement, a domestic violence victim can file a civil lawsuit for damages for their injuries. Like other injury actions, and unlike criminal cases which require proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the burden of proof is much lower in a civil case. A victim will only have to prove that it is more likely than not that their injuries were caused by the aggressor’s actions or abuse.
Figuring out the right path can be difficult, especially if the victim and aggressor are married or related. Because domestic violence is an emotionally taxing experience, it is recommended that victims seek out an attorney to help advise them of their best course of action.
- Injured from domestic violence? Get matched with a local attorney. (Consumer Injury)
- Crime Victim Resources (FindLaw’s Learn About the Law)
- Should You Call the Police If Your Neighbors Are Fighting? (FindLaw’s Blotter)
- 5 Legal Tips for Abusive Relationships (FindLaw’s Blotter)