Domestic violence can be broadly defined as abuse that occurs between family members or unmarried partners. It is also known as family violence. It involves one person in the relationship using abuse to intimidate and control the other person.
Domestic violence as defined in Georgia law occurs between:
- past or present spouses,
- persons who are parents of the same child,
- parents and children,
- stepparents and stepchildren,
- foster parents and foster children, or
- other persons living or formerly living in the same household.
- Reasonable discipline of children is not considered family violence.
The abuse may be:
- The legal definition of domestic violence covers physical abuse like:
- threats of violence,
- sexual assault,
- child cruelty,
- stalking, and
- many other state crimes to person or property
What is emotional and psychological abuse?
- Here are examples of emotional and psychological abuse:
- Threats of physical violence
- Humiliation and intimidation
- Blaming for everything
- Isolations - Actively creating emotional, psychological, and physical distance from family and friends
Technology and the internet can be used by offenders to embarrass, humiliate, and harm victims. Revenge Porn, which is more appropriately known as sexual image exploitation, is when intimate sexual images are shared without the victim’s permission.
Sexual image exploitation can have a devastating impact on a victim’s emotional and mental health.
What is Sexual Image Exploitation?
Sexual image exploitation refers to the distribution of sexually graphic, or sexual pictures or recordings of you without your permission.
Often, the person who shares the images is an ex-partner, but the offender can also be a stranger who hacked your phone, laptop, or cloud storage account.
This crime is also known as nonconsensual sharing of sexual images.
- Images that were taken without your knowledge or permission, for example, images taken through hidden cameras.
- Images taken with your permission as part of an intimate relationship that were meant to stay private.
- Images where a picture of your head is placed onto another person’s body to create a pornographic or embarrassing image.
Offenders often post these images on social media platforms to embarrass and hurt the victim, or to damage their reputation. Offenders may also use the images as a way to blackmail victims into continuing the relationship.
What can I do?
Remember, it is a crime to publish or share intimate images without your permission. You can contact the police or the district attorney’s office is you want the matter handled through criminal court. If the person sharing the images is a current of former intimate partner or family member, you can go to Family Court to get an Order of Protection against them and to make them stop sharing these images.
Victims of this crime experience a great deal of trauma. More than anything else, they want the images to be taken down immediately.
If you find out that your images have been shared without your permission, immediately tighten your privacy and security settings on your social media accounts. For example, increase your privacy on Facebook and make your passwords secure.
On the Cyber Rights Initiative website, you can find a detailed Online Removal Guide to remove images on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft.
You can also tell the Federal Trade Commission if a company posts your image without your consent and won’t take it down.
You can find links to low cost or pro bono (free volunteer) Attorneys on the Cyber Rights Initiative website.
If you are a victim of sexual image exploitation, please call the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative Crisis Helpline at 844-878-2274 for support and advice.
Sexual assault is any sexual act done against another person's will. It may be the act (like rape) or trying to do the act (like attempted rape). Victims are young, old, and from every background.
What should I know about sexual assault?
- Sexual assault is never the victim's fault.
- Rape is an act of power and control.
- Rape is the fastest growing crime in America and the least reported.
- 84% of rapes are done by a person known to the victim.
What can I do if I am sexually assaulted?
- Make sure you are safe. If you are in immediate danger, call 911. Otherwise, get somewhere safe or call a friend that you trust to help you. Your safety is what is most important.
- Get medical care. This may include:
- Care for injuries,
- A rape kit to collect evidence in case you want to file charges.
- Treatment and testing for STDs,
- Emergency contraception
- Seek support. The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) has a National Sexual Assualt Hotline at 800-656-HOPE(4573). The hotline will connect you to a staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area. The service provider can walk you through the process of getting help.
- Consider your reporting options. Reporting a crime to the police is not mandatory. You get to decide if that is something you want to do. If you wish to report the sexaul assault to the police, you can:
- Call 911.
- Contact your local police department by phone or in person.
- Go to a medical facility and tell a doctor or nurse that you want to report the crime.
- Seek a protective order.
- If the person who harmed you is a spouse, former spouse, parent of your child, person who you now live with or used to live with, or, if you are a minor, the person who harmed you is your parent, step-parent, or foster parent, a Judge can issue a FAMILY VIOLENCE PROTECTIVE ORDER against the person to stay away from you. The Judge can decide who keeps the child/ren and who must pay child support. The Judge also may take away guns and divide property.
- If the person who harmed you is NOT a spouse, former spouse, parent of your child, person who you now live with or used to live with, or, if you are a minor, a parent, step-parent or foster parent, you may be able to ask the Judge to issue a STALKING PROTECTIVE ORDER against the other person, if the person engaged in more than one act of harming you, and the harmful acts did not all occur at the other person’s residence.
What is stalking?
Stalking and cyberstalking are activities that put the victim in reasonable fear. These activities are also recognized as forms of domestic violence.
Stalking is a pattern of behavior that causes a reasonable person to fear for their safety or the safety of their family. The law defines stalking as following, placing under surveillance, or contacting another person without their consent and causing them emotional distress.
Note: harmful acts against a victim at the perpetrator’s residence do not qualify as stalking.
What is elder abuse?
Elder abuse is any act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult. Under Georgia law, abuse may be:
- Physical Abuse: Inflicting, or threatening to inflict, physical pain or injury on a vulnerable elder,depriving them of a basic need, or non-consensual sexual contact of any kind.
- Emotional Abuse: Inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on an elder through verbal or nonverbal acts.
- Neglect: Failing to provide essential services that results in harm or threatens to harm elders.
- Financial Exploitation: The illegal or improper use of an elder's resources for another's profit or gain.
What can I do if I or someone I know is being abused?
If there is immediate danger, call 9-11. Otherwise, you can report the abuse or get a protective order.
Report to State Agencies
Under Georgia law, people in certain positions are required to report suspected elder abuse to the Department of Human Resources. These people include:
- other hospital or medical staff,
- social workers,
- day care workers,
- employees of a financial institution and
- law enforcement.
Any person who suspects or knows of abuse of an elder or disabled adult who does not live in a nursing home or personal care home should report it. Make the report to the Adult Protective Services (APS) Unit of the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) in the county where the victim lives.
- You can call APS at 1-866-55AGING or file a report online.
- Upon receiving a report, APS must conduct a prompt, thorough investigation. APS will provide or arrange for protective services with the victim's consent if the investigation shows that the adult needs them.
- Services may include:
- help to get medical care or better housing;
- counseling a caregiver;
- finding adult day care;
- seeking a protective order; or,
- in cases where the victim is incompetent, asking a court to assign guardianship.
- APS can refer you to legal services, help you apply for public assistance, assist you in managing your affairs and even arrange a safe place for you to live.
- Services may include:
- If anyone interferes with an investigation or with provision of protective services, a petition can be filed in court seeking access to the elder. If there is clear and convincing evidence, the court can order that protective services be provided to the elder and prohibit interference with those services. The hearing usually will be held between 5 and 10 days after the petition is filed. If there is an immediate danger to the elder, the petition can be filed immediately and the court can issue an immediate order, known as an ex parte order. The order will allow immediate access to the elder to determine his or her well-being.
- The ombudsman investigates complaints made by residents in long term care facilities.
- The ombudsman ensures that the rights of a person living in a nursing home or personal care home are protected. The ombudsman helps the individual resident, not the facility or the family.
Report to Law Enforcement or Seek a Protective Order
Under Georgia law, family violence is a crime. Family violence is certain kinds of crimes between people who have a certain kind of connection to each other. The people must be connected to each other as:
- past or present spouses,
- parents of the same child,
- parent and child,
- stepparent and stepchild, or
- other persons living or formerly living in the same household.
The kinds of crimes include:
- criminal damage to property,
- unlawful restraint,
- criminal trespass or
- any felony.
Any adult may file a petition for the victim in the superior court for the county where the abuser lives. The petition should ask for a protective order. Petitions may be based on one or more acts of family violence. Within ten days of filing, a hearing will be held to determine whether family violence exists.
If family violence does exist, the judge can issue a protective order keeping the abuser from threatening or harming the victim for up to one year. A temporary protective order can be granted before the hearing if the court thinks the victim is in danger. Anyone who violates this order can be arrested.
Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked worldwide, including here in the United States. Trafficking can happen in any community, and victims can be from any race, gender, age, or nationality.
Human Trafficking is a form of slavery. The fear experienced by victims and the trauma caused by traffickers can be so great that many individuals may not identify themselves as victims or ask for help.
What is Human Trafficking?
Human Trafficking happens when someone is forced, tricked, or coerced into working. This can include sex work. Victims can be found in legal and illegal businesses, like restaurants, factories, sweatshops, massage parlors, hotels, and domestic service (housecleaning, cooking, child care, gardening, etc.).
Traffickers may use promises of well-paying jobs, or romantic relationships, violence, or threats of violence against family members in order to keep the person working. The trafficker limits the victim’s freedom, may take away their passport, driver’s license, and other documentation, and withhold wages. Often, the living conditions of the victims are inhumane – there is poor sanitation, inadequate food, dangerous working conditions, and no quality health care.
Human trafficking is a serious human rights violation.
NOTE: Under US federal law, anyone under the age of 18 who is induced to work as a commercial sex worker is a victim of human trafficking.
Is Human Trafficking the same as Human Smuggling?
No, but they are related crimes.
Human Smuggling involves the smuggled person’s permission and transportation across international borders. Usually, the person agrees to be transported illegally into a country, and pays the smuggler a large amount of money. Once in the country, they are free of their smugglers. If the smuggler uses force, fraud, or coercion to hold the person against their will for purposes of labor or sexual exploitation, then it becomes human trafficking.
For more information, visit the Human Trafficking Hotline Website.
For resources on human trafficking in the state of Georgia, visit the Georgia Human Trafficking Task Force.