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Domestic violence on the rise in Virginia

Recent tragedies have brought attention to an ongoing problem in the state of Virginia: domestic violence. In January, three women were killed in Central Virginia and authorities believe that the men in their lives may have been responsible for their deaths.

Local advocates believe that domestic violence is becoming a more common and more dangerous problem. In 2012, state police records indicate that about 50 percent of murders in Virginia involved a relationship between the victim and the person responsible for the death. Almost a quarter of those relationships were romantic in nature.

Statistics show that about 25 percent of women will be victims of domestic abuse at some point in their lives. In Virginia, that number jumps to about 33 percent. However, it is important to note that the higher number may be because women have more resources available to them to report instances of domestic violence.

Violence between two people who live together or have a child together is typically considered domestic violence. Violence between two people who are dating can also be considered domestic violence if there is a social, romantic or intimate relationship between the two parties. The court will determine if there is a relationship by looking at the frequency of interaction and the length of the relationship.

The violence can include physical and emotional abuse, as well as threats, stalking and economic abuse. In order for an arrest to be made, there must be probable cause that the crime was actually committed.

Those charged with domestic violence can face severe penalties. The consequences for domestic violence can be even more severe than an assault charge resulting from an attack on a stranger. In addition to jail time and fines, the accused may also have a restraining order placed against them to protect the victim from future abuse. However, those accused of domestic violence can defend against these charges and save themselves from these consequences.

Source: The News & Advance, "Advocates say domestic violence is becoming more common, Steve Hardy, Feb. 7, 2014

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