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Prosecuting Attorney

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence is a pattern of coercive behavior used to maintain power and control in a relationship. This abuse can be physical, sexual, or emotional. Besides your relatives, a "relationship" can include anyone you currently live with, have lived with in the past, or anyone you are or used to be intimately involved with.

Domestic Violence is a Crime that will no longer be excused or tolerated. WV.Code 48-2A-1

Facts About Domestic Violence

  • In a national survey of over 6,000 American families, 50 % of the men who frequently assaulted their wives also frequently abuse their children.
  • Child abuse is 15 times more likely to occur in families where Domestic Violence is present.
  • Men who have witnesses their parent's Domestic Violence are three times more likely to abuse their own wives than children of non-violent parents. The sons of the most violent parents are 1000 times more likely to become wife beaters.
  • Children who witness violence at home display emotional and behavioral disturbances as diverse as withdrawal, low self esteem, nightmares, self blame, and aggression against peers, family members and property.
  • A comparison of delinquent youth found that a history of family violence or abuse is the most significant difference between the two groups.
  • Over 3 million children are at risk of exposure to parental violence each year.
  • Older persons are battered also. Two/Thirds of elder domestic abuse and neglect are women with more than half of all reported elder abuse reportedly caused by a family member.
  • In West Virginia, a domestic homicide occurs every ten days.
  • In West Virginia, one woman is raped everyday.
  • In West Virginia, thirty-three percent of all murders are Domestic Violence related.
  • The State of West Virginia ranks second highest in the nation for Domestic Violence incidents.
  • No one has the right to batter or abuse you.

Domestic Violence Protection Order

If you are a victim of Domestic Violence, one action you may consider is to file a Protection Order in Magistrate Court. A Domestic Violence Protection Order is a civil order that can:

  • Order the abuser not to hurt or harass you;
  • Give you temporary custody of your children;
  • Give you temporary possession of your residence;
  • Order child and spouse support;
  • Order the abuser to stay away from your place of employment and away from your children's school.

How to get a Family Protection Order:

  • Go to a Family Law Court (Spring Street; Martinsburg) and tell the clerk that you want to file a petition for a Domestic Violence Family Protection Order.
  • Explain your need for protection to the clerk and ask for help in completing the forms required. You do not need witnesses, an attorney, or a police report to file. Filing for a Family Protection Order is free.
  • You will be expected to initial all statements that are true; describe the violence you abuser threatened to do or did; and initial what action you want the court to take.
  • After completing the forms, you will have a hearing with the judge that day. Try to explain the exact time, date, and extent of your injuries and why you fear the abuser. If a Temporary Order is granted you will receive a copy of the order, and the abuser will be served with an order to appear within 5 days.
  • At the second hearing, the magistrate will listen and question both you and the abuser. Be prepared to tell the judge when, where and with what you were beaten and why you are afraid of the abuser. If you have any witnesses, take then to court with you. The judge will then decide whether to issue a Final Family Protection Order that will last up to 90 days. (This may be extended if you file for divorce before the order expires)
  • Keep a certified copy of the Family Protection Order with you at all times. A valid protection order is effective in every county in West Virginia and every state in the United States.
  • If the abuser breaks the Family Protection Order, call the police to file a complaint charge.

The police can file criminal charges of either Domestic Assault (threats or attempts of physical abuse) or Domestic Battery (actual physical contact) when probable cause exists that a crime has occurred. The police do not have to witness the crime to file said charges. This is a separate proceeding from that of a Domestic Violence Petition and can only be dismissed prior to a hearing by a motion from the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney.

Domestic Violence Resource Centers

National Domestic Violence Hotline

West Virginia State Hotline

National Resource Center on Domestic Violence

Battered Women's Justice Project

Resource Center on Child Protection and Custody

Health Resource Center on Domestic violence

Missing Child Hotline

Crime Victim's Compensation Fund

Shenandoah Women's Center (SWC)
217 W. Martin Street
Martinsburg, WV 25401

Berkeley Springs - Mindy Tramonti
c/o SWC 217 W Martin Street

Charles Town - Mindy Tramonti
c/o SWC 217 W Martin Street

Shepherdstown Outreach Office
c/o SWC 217 W Martin Street

Hotline: Branches has a 24 hour Hotline (1-888-538-9838) where trained staff are on duty at all times to provide crisis intervention counseling, information, linkage to other agencies and arrangements for shelter at Branches or another Shelters if necessary.

Counseling: Branches offers individual counseling to the victim of domestic violence, both in a shelter setting, for outside clients, and for outreach catchment areas. The goal of counseling is to educate the victim about he cycle of violence and empower the individual to make healthy decisions toward their independence. Adult Support Group is offered weekly to residents and outside clients.

Children's Programs: Branches offers individual and group counseling to children while in residency as well as outside client contact. The children's counselor provides weekly children's support group and facility awareness for children's programs via presentations and educational seminars.

Children's Childcare Advocate: Provides childcare for residents and outside clients, while victims progress toward independence. Childcare worker uses creative activities while monitoring the child's behavior, academics, and physical and mental skills.

Legal Advocacy: A full-time legal advocate is available to assist and provide victims with legal options. Legal Advocate provides support while accompanying to court and can define legal terms within the pro se divorce.

Case Manager: The case manager acts as the liaison with the clients and community services within the community. The C.M. develop service plans with the client regarding their specific needs. The C.M. may link the client with medical, housing, financial, employment, and educational agencies. The C.M. works closely with Counselors and Legal Advocates to address the needs of the clients.

Shelter: While staying at the shelter, victims will have the chance to rest and heal in a safe environment. They will be helped by professional staff and trained volunteers to access their plans and examine their options. The shelter provides food and clothing and there is no charge for any services. Residents are asked to follow up their service plans, complete daily chores and participate in counseling. Residents may stay up to three weeks. At that time, an extension may be granted. Residents are asked to write a letter to the director explaining goals they have accomplished and what they will continue working on. The director then decides eligibility for the extension.

Outreach Advocate: The Outreach Advocate offers individual crisis counseling, court accompaniment and referrals to other services for victims of domestic violence. The goal of the O.A. is to educate the victims about the cycle of violence, offer support and to empower the victim to take control of her/his life without violence. O.A. also facilitates awareness of domestic violence via presentations and educational seminars to the public, clubs and various organizations.