Relationships With Others
Relationships and Violence
Relationships are extremely important to all of us. Unfortunately, not all relationships are healthy. Abuse and victimization can occur in any relationship, regardless of race, class, or age. If you are being victimized, it is not your fault. Everyone deserves to be treated well and respected.
- About one in three high school students have been or will be involved in an abusive relationship.
- 40% of teenage girls report knowing someone their age who has been beaten by a boyfriend. 1
- Physical Abuse
- hits, slaps, punches, shoves, bites, cuts, chokes, kicks, burns, spits on you
- throws objects of restrain you
- threatens to hurt you with an object
- abandons you or locks you in some place
- endangers you or your children
- Sexual Abuse
- forces you to have sex when you don’t want to
- forces you to perform sexual acts that you don’t like
- threatens to hurt you if you don’t want sex
- Emotional Abuse
- says you’re fat, ugly, have bad hair
- tells you you’re a bad mother
- tells you no one else would want you
- says you don’t deserve anything
- says you can’t do anything right
You can request a Temporary Protection Order (TPO). A TPO is a court issued order that helps victims of abuse. If the abuser violates any part of the TPO, s/he can be arrested. TPO’s can provide lots of different remedies, from ordering someone not to threaten you to ordering someone not to contact you in any way and ordering them to stay away from your home, school, or job. A TPO is good for two weeks, but has no effect until it is personally served on the offending party. A hearing will be held within two weeks of receiving a TPO to determine whether a Civil Protection Order (CPO) should be ordered. A CPO is similar to a TPO, but can last up to 12 months. Sometimes you may not need protection immediately, and in that case you can request only a CPO. It may take two weeks to have the initial hearing and receive the CPO.
How Do I Obtain a TPO or CPO?
The first step is to go to the Domestic Violence Intake Center (phone 202-879-1070) on the fourth floor of D.C. Superior Court, 500 Indiana Ave, NW. A court clerk will help you fill out the forms, describing the abuse and any harm or
injuries, to get a CPO. If you need protection right away, you can also receive help filling out a TPO. Remember, a TPO can be received on the day requested and goes into effect immediately.
Once you complete the forms, file them with the clerk. If you are asking for a TPO, you will see a judge that same day. The judge will listen to your testimony, and if it’s believable, a TPO will be granted that day. If you are given a TPO, the hearing date to obtain a CPO will be set within two weeks. If you are only asking for a CPO, you hearing will usually be set within two to three weeks.
How Do TPO’s and CPO’s help protect me?
You should always keep a copy of the TPO or CPO with you. If you have a TPO or CPO against someone and they violate any of the orders listed (trying to call you, driving past your home, etc.), call the police immediately. Tell them you have either a TPO or CPO, and they will remove (if applicable) and possibly
arrest the person in violation.
What if I’m under 18?
You can still receive a TPO and/or CPO. The judge may require your parent’s permission, and it may be easier if you take an adult to court with you. However, if you cannot take an adult with you, the court can also appoint an attorney to
represent you. You can also have a parent or another adult bring the action (file the forms) on your behalf. Sometimes, the court might declare you emancipated (meaning you are responsible for yourself and take care of yourself). In that case, you can file for the Orders of Protection on your own.
What if the alleged abuser is under 18?
The judge may or may not appoint an attorney for an alleged abuser who is 16 or older. If the alleged abuser is under 16 the judge will appoint an attorney or may refer the matter to juvenile authorities.
Remember—a Civil Protection Order is available for a person under 18 against a person over 18. And a Civil Protection Order is available for a person under 18 against a person under 18 too!
|National Domestic Violence Hotline||1-800-799-SAFE|
|Hearing impaired line||1-800-799-7233|
|Sexual Assault Hotline||202-333-RAPE|
|Latin American Youth Center
Support groups & counseling
|D.C. Crime Victims Assistance
Therapy & counseling
|Domestic Violence Intervention Program
Batterer’s Treatment Program
(must be 16 and older)
|National Organization for Victims
Referrals for Victim’s Resources in D.C.
|House of Ruth
Shelter and Counseling
(must be 18 and older)
|My Sister’s Place
Shelter and Counseling
(must be 18 and older)
|Asian/Pacific Islander Domestic Violence||202-464-4477|
|The Korean Community Service Center||202-882-8270|
|Whitman Walker Clinic
Support and Anger Management Groups
Madly in love with your boyfriend or girlfriend?
Maybe, but you can’t get married in D.C. until you are 16, and then only with permission by your parent(s) or guardian(s). At 18, anyone is free to get married in D.C. without parental permission. You will also need to have a blood test and then apply for a marriage license. You can then get married in a civil ceremony or have a private ceremony…
The blood test is required for anyone (teens and adults) getting married in D.C. The test screens for syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease (STD), which can be treated and cured with antibiotics. If undetected, the disease can cause health problems and be passed on to children through pregnancy. In the United States, an estimated 15.3 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) occur each year, at least one-quarter of them among teenagers.2 An estimated 70,000 cases of syphilis are sexually transmitted each year in the U.S.3 In D.C. you need to have a blood test to examine for syphilis, and have a doctor place the results on a “DHR 366” card. The blood test results are good for 30 days; i.e. you must take the blood test
results with you to apply for a marriage license within 30 days.
A marriage license will not be issued to persons between 16-18 unless the parent(s) or guardian(s) consent, either personally to a Clerk of the Court, or in writing and witnessed to the satisfaction of the Clerk. D.C. Code Ann. § 46-411 (2001). If you are over 18 (or have parental consent), and your blood test results are satisfactory, you can apply for a marriage license. The fee is $45, and there is a five-day waiting period. This means that between the time you apply for the license and receive the license, you must wait five days.
You will need to present a valid license to a minister or judge authorized under D.C. law to perform marriage ceremonies. Your minister or a judge cannot perform a legal marriage without a valid license issued by the D.C. Superior Court. D.C. Code Ann. § 46-408 (2001). You can have a civil ceremony done by a judge at the D.C. Superior Court for free. All you need to do is request a civil ceremony and give 10 days advance notice to the court.
For more information call the Marriage Bureau, Room 4485, D.C. Superior Court at 202-879-4840.
Are you under 16 and in a sexual relationship with an older person?
If so, you and your partner need to know about D.C.’s strict
statutory rape laws. Statutory rape in D.C. is defined as having sex
(or sexual contact) with a minor, under the age of 16 when the older
person is 4 or more years older than the minor. If you are under 16,
it does not matter whether you consent to having sex. In D.C. your boyfriend
or girlfriend could be seriously punished for statutory rape. It may
or may not feel like rape to you, but you need to be aware of your rights
minor not to have sex. If you do have sex before 16, you need to know how it can affect those around you…
Purpose of Statutory Rape Laws
Why do we have laws against having sex with a minor, even if the minor consents? Because we want to protect minors from:
- Sexual intercourse while they are too young
- Predatory, exploitative sexual relationships—for example, with much older partners
- Risk of teen pregnancy
- Dependence, especially of young mothers, on welfare
Consequences of Statutory Rape
There are serious penalties for engaging in sexual activity with minors under 16 in D.C. The minor cannot be punished, however the minor’s sexual partner can get punished by:
- Jail time (up to life in prison), or
The court will normally not impose sentences of more than 30 years unless there are aggravating circumstances (e.g. if the older person is a member of your family and committing incest, if the minor is physically injured, or the minor is under the age of 12). D.C. Code Ann. § 22-3008 (2001).
Second-degree child sexual abuse is defined as having “sexual contact”6 with a minor, when the perpetrator is at least 4 years older than the minor. Second-degree child sexual abuse can be punished by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. D.C. Code Ann. § 22-3009 (2001).
It is not a defense to the crime of child sexual abuse for your boyfriend/girlfriend to say that they did not know how old you were (even if you lied about your age). D.C. Code Ann. § 22-3011 (2001). The only defense to such charges would be that you were married at the time of sexual intercourse or contact. Id.
If you are ever raped, sexually assaulted, or molested, the following programs are sponsored by the D.C. Rape Crisis Center can help:
|Incest and Rape Survivor’s Group
Individual counseling also available
|Rape Crisis Hotline
Abuse and Neglect Law
The law of child abuse and neglect can affect you in one of two ways. You could be an alleged victim of abuse and/or neglect as a child (if you are under 18). Regardless of your age, if you have children, you could be suspected of abuse and/or neglect. Parents have many responsibilities to their children, including to house, feed, clothe, educate, and generally nurture and care for them. When parents are unable or unwilling to do these things for their children in the District of Columbia, the Child and Family Services Agency (Agency) may step in.
What is “Abuse“?
The Agency will begin an investigation upon hearing allegations of abuse. The D.C. Code defines an abused child as one “whose parent, guardian, or custodian inflicts, or fails to make reasonable efforts to prevent the infliction of, physical or mental injury upon the child, including excessive corporal punishment, an act of sexual abuse, molestation, or exploitation, or an injury that results from exposure to drug-related activity.” Inadequate care, control, or subsistence (food and nutrition) because of drug related activity in the home is also abuse. D.C. Code Ann. § 4-1301-02 and 4-1301.06a (2002).
What is “Neglect”?
In some cases the Agency may suspect neglect rather than abuse. Neglect may take the form of not properly feeding a child, either because the parent does not know what is appropriate to feed a child or cannot afford to feed a child. Neglect may also take the form of leaving children alone or improperly supervised (e.g., having an eight year old watch a two year old while a parent works). When a parent neglects a child, he or she may not ever hurt or harm the child directly, but rather the child may be suffering because of what the parent is not doing (e.g. failure to properly care for and nurture).
What Happens During an Investigation?
In cases of suspected child abuse, the police conduct the initial investigation. In cases of suspected neglect, the Agency conducts the initial investigation. Whether the Agency or the police conduct the investigation, they will try to determine:
- the nature, extent, and cause of the abuse or neglect,
- the person responsible,
- the name, age, sex, and condition of the abused child and any other children in the home,
- the conditions in the home,
- whether any child in the home is in danger because of the way s/he is treated or because of the condition in the home, and
- whether any child who is in danger should be removed from the home.
What if There is a Finding of Abuse or Neglect?
If the social worker investigating the case finds abuse or neglect to have taken place, s/he has several options of how to help that child and family:
- emergency financial aid (perhaps to pay a heat bill)
- a temporary placement for the child and any siblings with a responsible neighbor or relative
- emergency caretakers who enter the home and provide appropriate care for children
- placement of homemakers who assist the parent or guardian in taking care of the child and any siblings in the home
- day care
- counseling for the family
- medical evaluation and/or emergency treatment of the child by a qualified doctor
- other appropriate services like parenting classes.
Are There Any Other Cases When Children Might be Removed From the
Yes. When an investigation indicates that a child has been left alone or with
inadequate supervision and that child (or children) cannot be placed with a relative or neighbor, the Agency can take temporary custody. If the Agency takes temporary custody, it must give notice to the parent(s) and explain how to reclaim the child, try to locate the parent, and return the child to the parent unless there is additional evidence of immediate danger and police action is taken. If the parent does not claim the child at the end of 5 days or evidence of danger to the child is found, a complaint alleging neglect is filed with the Superior Court of D.C. D.C. Code Ann. § 4-1303.04 (2002).
Child abuse is a crime! If you are having a hard time dealing with your own children, seek help immediately. Child Protective Services, 202-671-7233, handles reports of neglect. The Youth and Family Services Division of the Metropolitan Police Department handles reports of physical abuse, 202-576-6768. You may also contact the Office of Corporation Counsel at 202-727-4871, for information.
Child Support 7
If you are a parent, your child has a right to child support from both of his/her biological parents. The child has a legal right of financial and other support until the age of 21 (or until “emancipated”—see section on emancipation in this booklet) from his/her parents. If you live alone with your child (i.e. the other parent does not live with you and your child) you are a “custodial parent,” and you can claim support from the non-custodial parent (the biological parent that does not live with the child).
How Do I Go About Obtaining Child Support?
You will first have to file a petition with the Court...
- If you are a mother, but are not married, you may have to establish paternity to be entitled to support from the child’s father. This can be established in D.C. using genetic testing. If the father admits paternity, you can skip this step. Either way you will have to file a petition (either a Petition to Establish Paternity & Child Support, or a Petition to Establish Child Support). The petitions can be obtained in Room 4335 of the D.C. Superior Court.
- This means you will have to show the court that you have given a copy of the petition to the other parent (there are special ways to “serve” the other parent that the court can help you with).
- If the other parent denies paternity or the amount of support requested, they can file an answer to the court. If the other parent denies paternity you can have a test ordered. If the other parent does not agree to the amount of support requested, you will likely have a hearing with the court.
- At the hearing (you must show up!), the court will determine the issues of paternity (if this is contested) and the amount of support you are entitled to receive as the custodial parent.
- In determining the amount of support, the court will look at the income of the non-custodial parent, any child support s/he already pays for the support of other children, any amount that person pays for medical insurance, your income, your costs for caring for your child and other various factors.
You can contact the Office of Corporation Counsel, 441 4th Street N.W., 6th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20001 at 202-724-6529 and ask for a paralegal to help to see how you should proceed with your case if either you or the non-custodial parent is a minor.
Important Child Support Numbers
|D.C. Superior Court
Paternity & Support Branch (Room 4335)
|D.C. Office of Paternity and Child Support Enforcement
This office helps custodial parents file for paternity and child support.
- From the National Domestic Violence Hotline website, http://www.ndvh.org. One in five female high school students reports being physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.—Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), August 2001
- American Social Health Association, Sexually Transmitted Diseases in America: How Many Cases and at What Cost? (Menlo Park, CA: Kaiser Family Foundation 1998), cited in The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of The National Institutes of Health, Fact Sheet: Sexually Transmitted Diseases Statistics, (1998), available at: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/factsheets/stdstats.htm
- Noy S. Davis & Jennifer Twombly, State Legislators’ Handbook For Rape Issues Handbook Series: Training Manual, (sponsored by the American Bar Association (ABA) Center on Children and the Law 2000), available at: http://www.vaw.umn.edu/FinalDocuments/stateleg.asp
- D.C. Code Ann. § 22-3001 (2001) defines a "sexual act" as sexual intercourse (any penetration), oral sex, and penetration with any object.
- D.C. Code Ann. § 22-3001 (2001) defines "sexual contact" as the touching with any clothed or unclothed body part or any object, either directly or through the clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.
- This section was written using Understaning Child Support (Without a Lawyer) (D.C. Bar Public Service Activities Corporation, 1995).