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Important Survivor Court Question

by Sabrin

 Below is a recent question/survivor case we received:

I am a victim of violence. My husband was arrested and now he is out on bail. The court date is a few days later. Many people know and he is now angry because I told on him. I am scared and I want to save my marriage. I need to know if he can file a defamation case against me for being honest. The hearing is in a family court and I will tell the judge that I don’t want to proceed with the case. I need to know whether he would be able to file a defamation case against me if I tell the judge that I don’t want to press charges. I have a baby. I can’t raise him on my own.

For those with experience in the domestic violence field, please provide all the advice you can. Your advice and responses are extremely valuable as they may help other survivors dealing with the same issues. Also, any survivors or any others who have been exposed to such issues or gender abuse, please provide your comments and advice as well.

8 Comments

OutAgainstAbuseFeb 27 2008 - -

Dear Survivor, I urge you to call the nearest domestic violence agency. They should be able to answer any legal questions you have and provide you with the support and resources you need. Here is a comprehensive list of all the available South Asian domestic violence organizations in the U.S.: South Asian Organizations Here is another good resource to better understand the general court system. However, please do get in contact with an advocate or DV organization asap to better help you understand the process: Domestic Violence & U.S. Law

Kajori Chaudhuri, MSWFeb 27 2008 - -

I can understand the confusion and the challenges that you might be currently facing and it's perfectly alright to have such feelings. You have pointed out that your 'husband is angry that you've told on him.' This is a matter of great concern and makes me think that one of the first things which should be addressed in your case is a comprehensive safety plan. I assume you are in the U.S. Within the U.S., family laws vary according to your state of residence. It is difficult and also erroneous to get 'advise' without knowing specific details. On the same note, any advice and discussion on an open forum might jeopardize safety. Having said that please follow internet safety procedures after you've visited websites for information. You can follow the link for more information about internet safety. http://www.ncadv.org/protectyourself/InternetSafety_121.html Please reach out to your local anti-DV organization as mentioned in the previous post. You can also call the National DV Hotline 1.800.799.7233. Good luck in your journey. Kajori Chaudhuri, MSW Domestic Violence Program Advocate Sakhi for South Asian Women Office: 212-714-9153 X 103 Helpline: 212-868-6741 www.sakhi.org

My 2 centsFeb 27 2008 - -

Dear Victim, Your concerns are well-founded and legitimate and I understand your plight, but please consider all your options before you decide to return to him. I know it seems difficult and it IS difficult, no doubt about that, but it's important to remain safe. Are you and your child safe with your husband around? You need to think about that honestly. He'll tell you that he's repentent, I'm sure but look for signs that would tell you whether he really is repentent or not. You mentioned you're a victim of violence. I infer that as physcial abuse, which is and can be very very dangerous. Legal issues apparently differ from state to state, and even county to county. I'm surprised that you were refrred to family court because I would assume that the crimial court would be applicable in your case, given that there's been violence. Perhaps, if you plan to pursue with the charges, you could find out how to move it to criminal court. I am no expert, and please find out before you act on anything I say, BUT a friend of mine was sued after she dropped charges against her abusive husband. Not immediately after, but two years later when my friend left him for good because the beating got worse, because he was getting back at her for reporting him in the first place, for the 4 day incarceration. In addition, her baby was taken away from her and an order of protection was issued against her. It's been about a year since all that, but she still doesn't have access to her daughter. As far as legality is concerned, the case would probably not stick. As far as I know it has not yet been decided whether there would be a trial. You should also know that the husband aslo made it impossible for her to divorce him, something that would have entitled the mother visitation rights at the least. How? By frequently changing his address. Of course his claim was that it was because he wanted her back. But please note, she had returned to him once. She had to leave again, two years later, because it got progressively worse. The man who apologized and begged her to return because he has changed became his old abusive self the very same day. They're amazing actors, and they'd do anything to save their own skin. I know, you would want to think that your husband is different, but let me tell you, that's what I thought too. By responding to your message I realize that I'm probably feeding ideas to abusers out there, but don't be scared. The system protects us. Even if you dismiss a case, make sure you say WHY you're doing it. Under NO circumstances tell the judge that you MADE UP the abuse or that you hurt yourself. BE HONEST. That's what will help you later on, if the need arises. Also, try to find out if you can decide to pursue the case later on even if you want it dismissed now. Just as a back up plan. Remember, the system is on our side ONLY IF we let it beon our side. Lots of love and dua. Please be safe. Don't make rash decisions such as returning to your husband. If you think you have to, give it time. A few months, maybe even a year. Time will tell you what to do, even if you can't decide.

Another centFeb 27 2008 - -

Just a thought, but do you have a lawyer? If so, prior to dismissing the case, get your lawyer to talk to his lawyer to draw up a legal document which would legally bind him to NOT press charges against you for 'telling the truth'. Once you have that, keep a copy of that document and perhaps a copy should be with your lawyer, just in case something comes up later. That, again, is just an idea which needs to be explored further. Anyone else, please chip in with your 2 cents, in case this really isn't such a great idea after all.

Kathryn B. WardFeb 27 2008 - -

dear all...excellent suggestions and please ms. victim talk with your local shelter-program about a legal advocate who can help you negotiate your court system and options. and pls continue to reach out b/c you will need the support of others to deal with this situation and to be safe with your child. dropping the charges won't make the violence go away. onek doa....and good luck

Shamita Das DasguptaFeb 28 2008 - -

This is a litigious country and any one can bring any case against anyone. However, just because you have spoken out about the abuse cannot make you vulnerable to defamation charges. It will probably be considered vindictive and frivolous. I appreciate that you would like to save your marriage for your child's sake, however, please consider the effect her father's violence is having on her. Witnessing parental violence can mark children's psyche to the extent that it is equivalent to being abused themselves. You are doing your child no favors if you decide to stay with an abusive man. And I endorse the idea that you should speak with domestic violence advocates ASAP. My best wishes to you for a violence-free and peaceful future!

CautionMar 2 2008 - -

Please do not discount the fact that the county can bring charges against you, for which you'd need a lawyer, time, money etc. I don't think that's something you'd want to get into. There are likely to be repercussions in terms of immigration as well, depending on your visa status. Be very very careful.

QuestionMar 2 2008 - -

Speaking of possible litigation, does anyone know if perjury charges can be brought against victims of domestic violence if the the victim decides to not tesify against her abuser?

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