What is domestic violence and how to defend yourself?

It is said that the one who knows us best can really hurt us the most. The phenomenon known as domestic violence is clear evidence of this. And as many victims confirm, the worst is not always the blows, but often the humiliation, intimidation and general psychological violence. In fact, injuries from such violence take much longer to heal.

mladá žena zažívá domácí násilí
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Chapters of the article

I don’t think many people would jump into a relationship with someone they got a few slaps from on their first date. But domestic violence is a long-term process that starts very creepily.

There are thousands of scenarios, but let’s imagine one of the more typical ones. It can start beautifully: perhaps with a flower on every date and a pick-up from work. Later on, unprecedented interest in the other person can sometimes border on controlling, and sarcastic jokes about them might also be perceived as humiliation. This may be followed by cutting the partner off from family and friends, albeit under affectionate pretexts (‘I like it best when we spend time together and enjoy each other’). All of this can go on for years, setting the stage for later, harsher versions of violence. By this point, the victim already has a damaged self-esteem, a weak support network of friends, and often there are children already in the relationship who can greatly influence the potential resolution of the situation.

Are you facing domestic violence?

Domestic violence is a very serious situation that can involve several criminal offences and, beyond potential criminal proceedings, also divorce proceedings, property settlement and disputes around child custody. It is certainly not worth underestimating in any way. We will review your case in detail,prepare a strategy against the opposing party and help you file a criminal complaint.

What forms of domestic violence do we know?

Domestic violence is not “just” punches or slaps. We refer to all of the following:

  • Psychological violence – such as humiliation, ridicule, extreme jealousy and interrogation, permanent control
  • Physical violence – such as slapping, hitting, throwing, shoving, restricting personal freedom
  • Sexual violence – bear in mind that there is no such thing as marital obligations and all unwanted and coerced intimate contact, even within a marriage or partnership, can be described as sexual violence.
  • Economic violence – this may include, for example, withholding funds when the other party has none, or forbidding them to get a job.
  • Social violence – the aforementioned restriction of ties with friends or family, removal of the telephone, etc.

Why is domestic violence dangerous?

Victims sometimes try to downplay domestic violence even to themselves and try to endure it, whether because they are ashamed of their situation, want to keep the family together for the sake of the children, or have been brought up to believe that divorce is a bad thing. Sometimes they also excuse their partner’s or spouse’s behaviour by the current difficult life situation and believe in change.

What should victims keep in mind?

Domestic violence is a long-term process that in the vast majority of cases escalates and worsens. The victim is often very manipulated, has a lowered self-esteem and the boundaries of what is acceptable to them are very much pushed back from what they would have been able to tolerate in mainstream society or before.

Victims of domestic violence often seek help only when they feel a real threat to their lives or the lives of their children. At that point, ending the violent relationship becomes more difficult.

Legally, the situation is very complicated because everything usually takes place between four walls and there are usually no witnesses. If there is no tangible evidence, everything can remain in the realm of allegations against allegations.

Violence is difficult to avoid because the victim and the perpetrator share the same dwelling and it is usually not easy to change this.

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What are the characteristics of domestic violence law?

The offence that typically corresponds with domestic violence is the offence of abuse of a person living in a shared dwelling. According to Section 199 of the Criminal Code, “whoever abuses a person close to him or another person living in the same dwelling with him shall be punished by imprisonment for six months to four years. The aggravation of the penalty may be brought about by committing such an act in a particularly brutal or agonizing manner, or by causing serious bodily injury or death, by committing the act on at least two persons or over a longer period of time.

Other crimes may also occur in connection with domestic violence, such as grievous bodily harm, bodily harm, restraint of personal liberty, extortion, violation of confidentiality of messages conveyed, rape, abuse of a person entrusted to one’s care, violence against a group of residents and against an individual, and others.

Tip: Are you considering filing a criminal complaint? File it in a way that someone will actually deal with it. We discuss how to do this in our article.

Don’t wait for the situation to worsen

Maybe everyone should earn a second chance, and maybe you’ll forgive the perpetrator for the first blow. After all, he was a little intoxicated and had a big fight with his boss that day. In our experience, however, those who resort to such behaviour once usually return to it again. You can’t excuse such behaviour by being drunk. Alcohol only reveals a person’s true personality.

Think of a safety plan

If you are experiencing a similar situation, try taking the following precautions:

  • Talk to someone about what you are experiencing. It will help you to view your situation as an impartial observer. Such a person’s testimony will not be enough by itself as a witness later on, but it may be useful to add a piece of the mosaic of the whole situation.
  • Seekprofessional help – there are a number of organisations and phone lines that specialise in this issue, can advise you on the basics and direct you to psychological help. Definitely do not underestimate the help of an experienced solicitor. Domestic violence can bring criminal, divorce or child custody proceedings. If you are up against a confident abuser, you need someone to lean on in these challenging situations.
  • Keep evidence – if you have an injury, get treatment and keep a medical report or take pictures of your injury.
  • Document your economic situation – if you may be going through a divorce later on, get a list and evidence of everything that belongs to the community property. You can get copies of receipts, bank statements, photographs of belongings, and the like.

In our experience, there are still some myths that persist in the area of domestic violence. What are they?

Myths related to domestic violence

It is a matter for the socially disadvantaged

Fact: Domestic violence affects all people and all classes. We know from experience that it does not avoid famous actors, high-ranking criminals, doctors or company directors.

Domestic violence is a matter of those two

Fact: Research has shown that when a man argues with and physically assaults a woman in a public place, those around him are more likely to react if they hear the victim shouting at the perpetrator and therefore do not know him. Domestic quarrels are often seen as a private matter, even when gross violence is involved. Yet domestic violence is a criminal matter and must be punished.

A man of such good looks and charm wouldn’t hit anyone

Fact: Sometimes the opposite is true. We know from experience the example of a school headmaster who forced his wife to get up and clean at four o’clock in the morning because he liked to get up to a tidy flat. He responded to his wife’s protests by beating her, which resulted in, among other things, his designer watch and later a bone in his hand. He was a gregarious man and a joker, whose other personality was unknown to those around him.

I guess she (he) likes it. Otherwise she would have left the perpetrator.

Fact: As we stated above, victims have a lowered self-esteem and a shifted reality threshold. They are often threatened that their children will take everything, that their children will be taken away from them and never seen again, or that the perpetrator will find them anywhere and finish them off. Combined with a difficult housing and financial situation, this situation may seem at first sight to be intractable, and they often remain in it.

Domestic violence affects only women and is rare.

Fact: Domestic violence is indeed perpetrated more often against women, but this does not mean that the roles are not sometimes reversed. Female perpetrators may then resort to psychological or economic violence against men, for example.
Nor is this a rarity. On the contrary, according to statistics, approximately one in three women and one in fourteen men experience it. We also encounter domestic violence against the elderly.

There is a little ‘Italy’ in every partnership

Fact: There is probably no such thing as an ideal cohabitation, and arguments (even more acrimonious ones) can occur in any partnership. However, it is necessary to distinguish between even a very emotional fight between two equal partners and one-sided violence against the victim.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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