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What Do I Need to Do to Prove Domestic Violence?

Posted on May 30th, 2024

Domestic violence is a serious issue that can have devastating impacts on victims and families. If you are suffering from abuse by a spouse, partner, or family member in California, you may be able to legally protect yourself by obtaining a restraining order. However, proving domestic violence occurred in court requires providing substantial evidence. For that reason, our attorneys at Harris Family Law Group will provide you with a clear understanding of what constitutes domestic violence under California law and the steps you can take to prove it.

What Do I Need to Do to Prove Domestic Violence

What is Domestic Violence in California?

California law defines domestic violence as abuse committed against an intimate partner.  This abuse can be physical, emotional, or financial. It includes physical abuse as well as threatening behavior, harassment, stalking, and other forms of abuse by a spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, dating partner, or co-parent.

Some examples of acts that can be considered domestic violence include:

  • Hitting, kicking, shoving, or other physical attacks
  • Sexual abuse or assault
  • Threats to harm you, your children, family members, or pets
  • Destroying your personal belongings
  • Repeatedly calling, texting, following, or showing up unexpectedly
  • Controlling or limiting your daily activities

Essentially, any behavior that causes you to fear for your safety can potentially qualify as domestic violence under the law.

Evidence Needed for a Restraining Order

For you to obtain a restraining order against your abuser, you will need to provide evidence and testimony convincing the court that domestic violence has occurred and there is a credible threat of future violence. The types of evidence that can help prove your case include:

Police/Medical Reports

Call the police to document any incidents of physical abuse or threats. Request a copy of the police report, which provides official documentation. Medical records showing your injuries can also serve as powerful evidence.


Taking photos or videos of your injuries, damaged property, the scene after an incident, or your abuser’s threatening behavior can substantiate your claims. Time/date stamps can further validate this documentation.

Witness Testimony

Statements from anyone who has witnessed the abuse, heard threats being made, or saw the aftermath can seriously bolster your case. Friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, etc. may be able to provide witness accounts.

Communication Records

Save any voicemails, texts, emails, letters, or social media messages from your abuser that contain threats, harassment, or evidence of controlling behavior. These written records can prove a pattern of abuse.

Your Testimony

Be prepared to provide detailed testimony about specific incidents of violence or abuse, including dates, times, locations, and a clear description of what occurred. The judge will evaluate your credibility.

Expert Testimony

In some cases, you may want to call expert witnesses such as counselors, therapists, law enforcement officers, or domestic violence advocates who can speak to common patterns and impacts of abuse based on their experience.

Importance of Acting Quickly

It is critical to document abuse and file for a restraining order quickly if you are in an unsafe domestic situation. You can request an emergency temporary restraining order first if there is an immediate threat of violence.

This prevents the accused party from disposing of evidence and gives you court-ordered protection while you prepare further evidence for a longer-term restraining order hearing.

Don’t hesitate to call the police, seek medical care, or contact a domestic violence organization if you fear for your safety at any time. Your life and well-being should be the top priority.

What Can You Do Right Now?

If you are experiencing domestic violence, there are steps you can take to ensure your safety:

  • Develop a safety plan: Create a plan on how to escape a violent situation and where you will go. You may consider staying with a trusted friend or family member or at a domestic violence shelter.
  • Create an emergency contact list: Develop a list of emergency contacts, including the police, a domestic violence hotline, and trusted friends or family members. Keep this list easily accessible in a safe place.
  • Gather important documents: Collect essential documents such as your ID, passport, birth certificates, social security cards, and financial documents. Keep these in a safe place outside of your home in case you need to leave quickly.

Harris Family Law Group Is Here for You

At Harris Family Law Group, we understand the devastating impact domestic violence can have on your life. Our compassionate and experienced attorneys are dedicated to protecting you and your children. Contact us today for a confidential consultation.

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