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When it comes to domestic violence charges, these cases move forward in criminal court, so it’s not up to the victim whether the alleged abuser will face criminal charges. The victim’s role in the criminal proceedings will primarily be to serve as a witness.

However, victims can take a more active role. For example, a witness might try to refuse to testify against his or her spouse. Or, the victim may choose to file a personal injury lawsuit against the alleged abuser in civil court.

When victims serve as witnesses in domestic violence cases

The victim in a domestic violence case will usually need to appear in court at the behest of the judge and the prosecution. The judge, for example, may ask the victim to speak early on in the criminal proceedings about whether he or she feels it’s safe to release the abuser and why.

Victims may also be summoned for questioning at trial. Sometimes, victims can refuse to speak in court. In other cases, victims must submit to questioning.

Requesting a restraining order

Something else that victims may do actively during a domestic violence case is to pursue a restraining order against their attacker. Securing a restraining order could provide victims with peace of mind as it will prevent their abuser from contacting them and require the abuser to keep his or her distance.

In some cases, victims of domestic violence will also have the ability to break their leases or remove their abusers from their homes so they can live separately.

Learn more about Tennessee domestic violence laws

A domestic violence case could trigger many different kinds of legal proceedings in criminal, personal injury and family law. For one, the person accused of domestic violence could face criminal proceedings in which he or she can defend against the charges. Secondly, victims may want to pursue separate actions for personal injury claims and also pursue restraining orders against their abusers. Thirdly, divorce and family law proceedings may follow an instance of domestic violence.