When police officers respond to calls about potential domestic violence, they have to look at the situation carefully. Damage to property, injuries on either person and what they overhear as they approach the front door can all influence how officers handle the situation.
Some domestic violence calls in Texas lead to officers issuing a warning, but many others culminate in the arrest of one of the parties involved in the situation. Sometimes, police officers make the wrong decision and arrest someone engaged in reactive abuse as opposed to the person who routinely commits domestic violence.
What is reactive abuse?
The popular image of domestic abuse victims portrays them as frightened and easily intimidated. While it is true that people may cower when someone else becomes aggressive, they will also have an angry response to the aggression or conduct of their abusive partner. Sometimes, individuals who have experienced abuse at the hands of their spouse, roommate or family member will lose control of their feelings and lash out at the person who mistreats them. They may scream, throw things or hit back even though they know they are not as strong as the other person. Reactive abuse is quite common among those who have endured domestic violence.
What officers get wrong
Sometimes, the circumstances make it look like one person was the instigator because they seem more emotional or the other party has signs of recent injuries. However, officers may fail to recognize that what they witnessed was a five-minute outburst following weeks of mistreatment or more. When officers arrest the wrong person in a domestic violence situation, a victim who has endured misconduct for a long time may suddenly face criminal consequences for reciprocating the abuse they have experienced. Individuals speaking to fight back against domestic violence charges may need to present evidence about prior incidents and their mental health as part of a comprehensive defense strategy.
Understanding the nature of reactive abuse can help people accused of violating Texas domestic violence laws mount a more successful defense to the allegations they face. Seeking legal guidance promptly is usually the best way to get started.