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Victims of Domestic Violence and Abuse

Domestic violence and abuse is a serious and widespread problem in New Mexico.  It is estimated that one in three New Mexico women will be the victim of domestic violence during their lifetime.  It may come as some surprise, but men are often also victims of domestic violence and abuse.  It is estimated that one in seven New Mexico men will be the victim of domestic violence and abuse.

Varieties of Domestic Violence and Abuse

Domestic violence and abuse comes in many varieties.  It ranges from misdemeanor property crimes to homicide and everything in between.  The domestic abuse may be physical, emotional, psychological, financial or other forms of domination and control.

Domestic violence and abuse cases are handled in both the New Mexico civil and criminal courts.   Each serves a related purpose of protecting the victim.  However, the processes, jurisdiction and issues differ significantly between the two courts.

Domestic Abuse Cases in the Civil Family Law Courts

For instance, the Domestic Violence Courts in Civil Court are typically part of the Family Law Court if there is one.  As such, the Civil Court Domestic Violence division has fairly wide jurisdiction and can deal with a wide range of family law issues that come with a domestic violence situation.  The most important function of the Civil Domestic Violence Division is to issue and enforce Orders of Protection from Domestic Abuse.

Domestic Violence in the Criminal Courts

Many if not most cases will end up at some point in the criminal courts.  The criminal courts also have the principal aim of protecting the victim.  Though the criminal courts do not have jurisdiction over family law matters such as custody, property and support, they do have extensive authority to protect the victim from abuse.  The main tool for this is the no-contact order.  The no-contact order will be part of a much broader Order Setting Conditions of Release.  This order can set a long list of conditions as the court deems necessary to protect the victim.  As part of the conditions of release and/or probation upon conviction, the court can maintain the no-contact order, order extensive supervision and counseling in lieu of the no-contact order or some combination of the two along with a host of other conditions for the protection of the victim.

Domestic Violence and Protection of Victim  Taken Very Seriously!

For both victims and perpetrators of domestic violence, it should be known that the courts of New Mexico, whether civil or criminal, take domestic violence and abuse extremely seriously.  The courts will not tolerate repeat offenses or violations of court orders.  The consequences for violation can be quite severe with charges and penalties escalating very rapidly with repeated offenses.

Domestic Violence Resources and Support

At the same time, the courts have created a host of programs for the support of both the victim and the perpetrator.  There are many private organizations that also provide support.  The range of services spans everything from safe house residences to protect victims to group counseling to family counseling.  The main focus of most of these is to protect the victim.  However, it is recognized that sometimes the best way to do this is to address the issues of the perpetrator as well.  In short, whether you are a victim or a perpetrator, there is likely a resource tailored to your needs.

In closing, if you are a victim, know that there is a vast array of help out there for you.  You just have to take the first step by seeking help.  This is often very difficult to do but if you are a victim of domestic violence, there will come a time when it is simply unavoidable.  Unfortunately, by this point, you and/or your family may have already suffered irreparable harm.  So take action now and reach out for help.  You will be heard!

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