What is domestic violence?

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(KTSF by Sean Au)

San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarim is facing domestic violence allegations.  The case raises public concern about the definition of domestic violence.

The District Attorney’s Office has seen 771 cases of domestic violence in 2011. D.A. George Gascon says it is not uncommon for victims of domestic violence to recant their claims. His office will then have to evaluate the evidence on hand to decide if they should proceed with charging the accused.

(AP File)

George Gascon explains, “Often, the victims are afraid there is a dependent relationship. The offender is often the financial support for the home. There is often love. People are often in love with each other.”

Domestic violence is defined as the perpetrator using physical force, sexual or psychological abuses against the victim, or using means like economic punishment, degradation, keeping in place or threats to cause the obedience of the victim. Domestic violence victims are not restricted to women. Men, children or the elderly can also be victims of this crime.

Donaldina Cameron House in Chinatown handled about 150 cases of domestic violence last year. Director Social Services Ministry Yulanda Kwong says domestic violence is usually a trend that takes place more than once over time.

“Some cases which are serious when we see very obviously abuse cases, we will see them and explain to them the different resources available to them, and help them to make a plan that is safe for them,” says Kwong.

Kwong adds that if the victims’ friends or family members cannot help them find a temporary place to stay, community organizations like Donaldina Cameron House can help find a shelter. If victims are physically hurt, they should go to see a doctor or nurse to get an injury record. If there are children in the family, they should be taught to call the police should they be abducted. Community organizations can also help victims to obtain a restraining order keeping the perpetrator a hundred yards away.

Some immigrants who are afraid to lose their status in the country should know that the federal law, Violence Against Woman Act, can help victims of domestic violence obtain permanent residency.

(Copyright 2012 KTSF. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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