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    August 15, 2016

    Defining & Addressing Domestic Abuse in South Carolina

    How Our Family Lawyer Helps Victims of Domestic Abuse

    While dating and during the early months of a relationship, people often make an extra effort to show their best side and make themselves appear in the most flattering light. While it is perfectly natural to want to impress someone you care about, this type of behavior can mask certain character traits and tendencies that could be a problem further down the line. Unfortunately, the truth is only revealed after the parties have married or moved in together, when a person’s darker tendencies finally come to light. Domestic abuse is an unfortunately common problem in South Carolina, one that puts both the personal health and safety of victims at risk. At Lauren Taylor Law, our experienced family lawyer understands the serious ramifications living with an abuser can have on you and your loved ones. While calling the police may provide temporary help in an emergency situation, we can advise you on legal actions you can take to ensure your safety, as well as that of those you love.

    Domestic Abuse In South Carolina

    Domestic abuse centers around acts of verbal, psychological, or physical violence that occurs within the home or family setting, and it impacts a variety of victims. While women have traditionally been regarded as its biggest victims, men as well as children are affected as well. According to statistics from the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (SCCADVASA), domestic abuse is one of the leading cause of injuries throughout the United States, and it has been an ongoing problem in South Carolina. As many as 36,000 victims report being abused each year in our state, while there are conceivably tens of thousands more who never report their abuse. Common symptoms of domestic abuse include the following:

    Pulling hair, punching, and kicking;
    Throwing objects, punching walls, and kicking in doors;
    Using weapons as a threat or as a means of harm;
    Keeping victims trapped against their will;
    Driving recklessly with others in the vehicle;
    Name calling and constant criticizing;
    Using humiliation and blame to coerce others;
    Isolating victims, or controlling their activities;
    Taking money or denying access to funds;
    Forced sexual relations and unwanted sexual attention.

    Obtaining Protection From Abuse

    When you are facing the above types of abuse, it can be difficult knowing where to turn to for help. While the police may be able to assist you in detaining the abuser on a temporary basis, there is often little they can do to prevent the abuser from returning to your home. Fortunately, South Carolina law offers several ways in which you can get the protection you need. Under Section 20-4-40 of the SC Code, the family member of an abuser may file a petition for an order of protection, which prohibits the abuser from returning to the home or having contact with the victim for an indefinite period of time. The person requesting the order must show by a preponderance of the evidence that abuse is or has taken place and that they are in need of the court’s protection. This evidence may be in the form of the following:

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    Police reports detailing past abuse;
    Medical and hospital records describing injuries;
    Statements from other family members and friends;
    Photographs of bruises or other injuries suffered.

    An emergency hearing on a petition for an order of protection may be requested within 24 hours or the hearing may be held within 15 days after the petition was filed, depending on the imminent danger of the victim. At the hearing, the court has the authority to make temporary arrangements awarding custody of any minor children to the victim, as well as to temporarily order the abuser to provide financial support, in the form of alimony or child support.

    In cases in which the abuser lives outside the home, such as involving an ex-spouse or former relationship, the victim may be able to obtain a restraining order through their local magistrate court. These types of orders are used for cases of harassing or stalking, and will also prevent the abuser from contacting you.

    Enforcing a Protection Order

    There are times when having an order of protection or a restraining order is not enough to dissuade an abuser. Fortunately, once an order of this sort is in place, the abuser faces arrest and criminal charges if they attempt to violate it in any way. In the event the abuser contacts you or approaches you at your home or place of business, you should immediately notify law enforcement. Keep your official copy of your order in a safe place, and be prepared to provide it to the police if needed.

    In some cases, despite the existence of a restraining order, a victim of domestic abuse feels it is in their best interests and safety to actually leave an area in order to get away from their abuser. If you have moved to South Carolina from another state you may register your order of protection with the court under the Uniform Interstate Enforcement of Domestic Violence Protection Orders Act. The order will then be recognized by South Carolina, granting you all the protections you would have in the original state in which the order was issued. In the event your abuser attempts to contact you here, local law enforcement officials would be available to provide the help and protection you need.

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    Contact Our Experienced South Carolina Family Lawyer Today

    If you or someone you care about is the victim of abuse, contact our experienced South Carolina family lawyer right away. At Lauren Taylor Law, we take these types of cases very seriously, providing you with the kind of aggressive legal representation you need to protect yourself and those you love. We can advise you on how to obtain an order of protection or a restraining order, while helping you make sure your order is enforced, preventing your abuser from contacting you or showing up at your home. Get the compassionate, caring service you need, while ensuring your rights are protected. Serving Greenville and the Upstate area, call or contact our office online today to see how we can help you.