She apologized…

He had hit her in the face, knocking her unconscious… And she apologized.

That very often is what happens when there has been a “pattern or history” of family violence.  The victim has become convinced that he or she either is the cause of the violence or deserves it.  Whatever the reasoning, it is wrong.

Texas has laws to protect victims of family violence.  In addition to criminal penalties for assault, the law allows a victim to obtain a protective order.  The protective order will put into place certain safeguards for victims, including prohibiting the Respondent from committing further violence, going to or near a school, day-care, or a residence of a protected party, and providing immediate police protection in the event of a violation of the Order.

People mistakenly believe that family violence protective orders can only be issued if the parties are married.  That isn’t true.  Protective orders can be entered against an offender if the parties have a child together, are related by blood or marriage, or are living together or have previously lived together.  Adults can file on behalf of children to protect a child from family violence.  A minor in a dating relationship can file his or her own application for a protective order.  Additionally, couples in a same-sex relationship who are living together or have been dating may seek a protective order.

Unlike other areas of law which have strict requirements about where a case can be filed, a person filing for a protective order can file in the county in which he or she resides, in which the offender resides, or in any county in which the family violence is said to have occurred.

If you have been the victim of family violence, or someone you love is a victim of family violence, there are ways to stop the offender and protect you from further harm.  You do not have to continue to suffer the abuse.

Marilea W. Lewis is a partner at Duffee + Eitzen. She can be reached at

Marilea W. Lewis, partner at Duffee + Eitzen

Domestic Violence Resources in North Texas, as seen in article on family violence