Understanding Texas’ Domestic Violence Laws and How To Choose a Domestic Violence Lawyer in Austin, Texas

With domestic violence impacting one in three Texans, equating to more than 40% of the state’s women and nearly 35% of the state’s men, shining a spotlight on Texas’ domestic violence laws can inform survivors of their rights and empower them to seek justice.

Beyond knowing the state laws, it’s crucial for victims of domestic violence to understand the characteristics of a good lawyer in order to increase the likelihood of justice and ensure their future safety. This is especially true for residents of Austin, Texas, given that 38% of homicides in Travis County over the past 10 years resulted from domestic violence. Here is a guide to understanding Texas’ domestic violence laws and some resources to find a domestic violence lawyer in Austin, Texas, and the state at large.

Texas’ Domestic Violence Laws

In Texas, domestic violence or family violence is defined as: a nondefensive act or threat committed by a family member against another family or household member with the intention of causing physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault; child abuse committed against a minor member of one’s own family or household; and dating violence.

Texas has a long list of what constitutes domestic violence. Womenslaw.org provides detailed information on the many domestic violence crimes and associated legal definitions. Overall, Texas law recognized six different categories of domestic violence, including physical abuse, psychological abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and technological abuse.

Abuse Comes in Many Forms

The state of Texas recognizes the following forms of abuse.

Physical abuse is the most widely reported category of domestic abuse and encompasses allegations of pushing, slapping, punching, kicking, choking, restraining, and more. Physical abuse doesn’t have to result in serious injury to constitute domestic violence. Bodily injury of any severity can be used as evidence in domestic violence charges.

Psychological abuse encompasses acts committed to instill fear in a victim, such as forced isolation, threats of violence, or blackmail. These acts are often intimidating and can result in domestic violence charges depending on the extent and severity.

Financial abuse is when a spouse or family member restricts access or control of financial assets. This usually occurs when a married couple shares a bank account but is also seen when a spouse or family member deliberately interferes with another’s economic independence by restricting their ability to work or receive an education.

Sexual abuse includes, but isn’t limited to, acts such as spousal rape, sexual assault, stealthing (nonconsensual condom removal), unwanted touching, sexual exposure, coercing an abortion, and preventing the use of contraception.

Emotional abuse encompasses controlling behavior meant to scare the victim. It often takes the form of verbal humiliation including shaming, insulting, name-calling, and yelling. Emotional abuse is often hard to prove and thus is rarely used as the sole evidence for domestic abuse charges

Technological abuse involves the use of technology to harass or stalk a spouse or family member. Technological abuse is most common in young adults and includes acts such as cyberbullying; monitoring social media, calls or texts; tracking a partner’s location; hacking into online accounts; and demanding passwords.

Finding a Domestic Violence Lawyer in Austin, Texas

If you or a loved one in Travis County has experienced any of the six categories of domestic violence, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a domestic violence lawyer in Austin, Texas. Below are some reputable resources that can be helpful in finding a local domestic violence lawyer.

Justia.com is a free service that allows users to compare Austin’s top domestic violence lawyers and offers quick access to each lawyer’s email, phone number, and website while indicating whether the lawyer is willing to have a free consultation or video conference.

The National Domestic Hotline — hotline.org — provides myriad local resources and allows users to do a specialized search to find the help they need, including assistance with legal advocacy and legal representation. Help is also provided by calling the hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or texting 88788.

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