This year has been increasingly tough: a global pandemic, a racial reckoning, and self-isolation that never seems to end. Now, you are facing allegations of domestic abuse.
How did this happen? How did you get in this position? Can you even defend yourself if you “didn’t do anything wrong?”
Your first step should be taking a step back. Domestic abuse charges in Texas might be more complicated than you think.
Understanding Domestic Abuse
Domestic or abuse is not cut-and-dry. Even if you never laid a finger on your partner or child, you may have put them in a position where they felt like they were being threatened.
Now may not be the right time to point fingers, so hold that thought. For many current or former domestic abusers, blame and resentment are what put them in a position where they took their anger out on their partner in the first place.
If you want to avoid jail time and (more importantly) repair your relationships, take some time to recognize what domestic abuse is, and whether you are guilty.
Signs of Emotional Abuse
Abuse comes in many forms: mental, emotional, financial, and of course, physical. Words and threats can leave scars, too. If you find any of the following statements to be “true,” you might have engaged in abusive behaviors:
- I am in charge of my family and the relationships I have with people around me.
- I frequently think about “getting even” with my partner.
- I have broken a family member’s belongings because I was angry or resentful.
- My partner feels like I am interfering in their relationships.
- My partner feels like they have to walk on eggshells or ask permission for things.
- I have made threats or ultimatums to get what I want.
Emotionally abusive-leaning behaviors often cause depression, anxiety, or the abuse of alcohol or drugs in the person who perceives them as such.
Domestic Abuse Charges in Texas
Domestic abuse falls under the crime of “family violence” in Texas. Family violence includes dating violence, assault on a family member, or general abuse. Under the umbrella of abuse includes sexual abuse, physical abuse, and mental abuse.
Mental abuse is defined as any type of “emotional injury…that results in an observable and material impairment in…growth, development, or psychological functioning.”
What happens if you are accused of family violence in Texas? You may face misdemeanor charges. Family violence is a class A misdemeanor. Convicted offenders may face up to a year behind bars and thousands of dollars in fines.
If the abuse becomes more physical and causes bodily injury to your partner, child, or family member, you may find yourself facing felony charges.
These penalties are much higher and may impair your ability to get a job, rent an apartment, or practice your rights as a citizen.
Recognize Signs of Abuse? Take Steps to Stop It
No relationship begins with the expectation of emotional, mental, or physical abuse. Even in extreme cases, victims may have enjoyed time with their partner and ignored red flags.
Feelings of resentment that cause domestic abuse may grow more prominent over time until you feel that your emotions are out of your control. There is no shame in recognizing your own history and patterns in actions and behaviors toward your family.
A Texas domestic abuse charge may be the wake-up call that you need to take responsibility for your emotions and your actions and remember, convictions are not handed out overnight.
If you even think that you are going to face charges, take action immediately to seek help. Reaching out to a therapist or a counselor today will not just help you in court; it will help you live a more fulfilling, happy, and safe life.
Where Can I Seek Help?
These behaviors do not have to define who you are. You are capable of change and growth. If you want to curb potentially abusive behavior, seek help. Do not be ashamed to ask for help; it is brave to stand up and become a better partner.
This self-assessment can be a great start. Do not use it as a tool to diagnose yourself. Simply read through the questions and answer honestly. The results will suggest triggers and self-management tools.
Awareness of triggers, and tools for coping with those triggers in a healthy way, is the first step toward growth.
The self-assessment is provided by the Men’s Resource Center. A quick Google search can connect you with counselors, therapists, and resource groups that can help you understand why you are displaying certain behaviors.
Again, do not be afraid to ask for help. The steps you take to controlling your behavior can help you avoid a year of jail time and can help your loved ones stay safe.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. He has been named one of the 3 Best DUI Lawyers in Fort Worth, recognized by Expertise, National Trial Lawyers, Avvo, and others, and he is Lead Counsel rated.