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Recognizing Forms of Civil Abuse

There are many different types of abuse or harassment defined by laws. Many forms of abuse have a civil and criminal element to them, though we often are far more aware of the criminal aspect. There are other ways to fight back, however, if a criminal case is not possible. Civil abuse can be met with a civil court case, which can be another way for victims to seek justice.

What is Civil Abuse or Harassment?

Harassment and abuse can take many forms, not all of them violent. Non-violent harassment can be intrusive and still is as abusive as a physical attack. Domestic violence laws are intended to protect you from the physical, verbal, or emotional abuse of a romantic partner, spouse, former partner, or close family member. Civil harassment laws, on the other hand, protect you from emotional, physical, and verbal abuse from a stranger, more distant relative, friend or acquaintance.

From a civil law standpoint, there are 4 types of abuse and harassment:

  • Domestic violence
  • Workplace violence
  • Civil harassment
  • Elder or dependent abuse

What differentiates these forms of abuse is the relationship between the abuser and the victim. In civil abuse or civil harassment cases, the victim is not a current or former romantic partner, close family member, dependent (whether elderly, mentally disabled, or a child), or a coworker or boss.

Civil harassment often is similar to domestic violence, but the relationship isn’t nearly as intimate or close. Commonly, abusers in this category of harassment are friends, neighbors, non-romantic roommates, work acquaintances, strangers, or distant relatives, such as cousins, aunts, uncles, nephews, or nieces.

Recognizing Civil Harassment

In civil harassment cases, “harassment” is defined as 3 factors:

  • Course of conduct: a pattern of behavior that is composed of a series of acts over time, which show a continuity of purpose.
  • Credible threat of violence: Using statements or courses of conduct which are known to make a reasonable person fear for their safety or the safety of their loved ones. These statements or actions should serve no legitimate purpose.
  • Harassment: unlawful violence, the threat of violence, or a willful course of action which is directed at a specific person with the intent to annoy, frighten, or harass the person for no legitimate purpose. The conduct should cause a reasonable person to suffer significant emotional distress.

Some forms of civil harassment include:

  • Stalking
  • Unwanted phone calls, messages, or emails
  • Threats
  • Sexual assault
  • Assault or battery
  • Isolating the victim from others
  • Spreading gossip, rumors, or compromising images
  • Destroying the victim’s property

When to Seek Legal Help

It can be a frightening experience to be the victim of any form of abuse, especially if the abuser is a stranger or relatively unknown to you. If you have been the victim of abuse, it is important to contact an experienced attorney who can help you before your abuse gets worse. Your lawyer can assist you in getting restraining orders, which can help you take legal action if the perpetrator contacts or approaches you or your family.

Civil protective orders are the first step in ending civil harassment. Your attorney can also help you document evidence and bring a civil lawsuit against your harasser, which will allow you to sue them for damages related to their behavior. A lawyer is your advocate, and is interested in protecting you from harassment and abuse.

Get Help from Our Pocatello Family Law Attorneys – (208) 623-8021

At May Rammell & Thompson, our experienced team is ready to help you fight for your rights. You shouldn’t have to fear the actions of a stranger, “friend,” or another person in your life, and we can help you devise a plan to protect yourself from further abuse. Our Pocatellofamily lawyers are on your side.

Start your case with a consultation. We offer services in English and in Spanish to help all our clients. Contact our offices by calling (208) 623-8021.


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