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What should you know if you're accused of domestic violence?

It is never a good feeling to know that you've been accused of domestic violence. At this point, you have no choice but to face those allegations and to address them. Since there are many kinds of domestic violence, the first thing to do is to find out what kind you're accused of.

Although physical violence may be the first kind of domestic abuse you think of, you could be accused of other types such as emotional abuse or economic abuse. Emotional abuse includes things like humiliating your spouse or diminishing his or her sense of self-worth. Economic abuse may include forbidding your spouse to work or controlling all the finances in the family.

Of course, it goes without saying that there are exceptions to every rule. For example, if your spouse has a bad habit of spending any money in the bank, you may have limited his or her access to banking cards or credit cards that you have. That's a reasonable response, and as long as your spouse has some access to shared accounts or his or her own money.

Emotional abuse is harder to prove, and that's true for good reason. One fight where you say something you shouldn't have to belittle your spouse is not the same as emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is not just a one-off argument. It's days, months, weeks or years of belittling a spouse and trying to control him or her with negative words and actions.

Regardless of the kind of abuse you're accused of, it's important for you to get a chance to explain your side of the story. Your rights shouldn't be violated simply because of accusations.

Source: FindLaw, "Virginia Domestic Violence Laws," accessed Aug. 11, 2017

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