#HCAwarenessWeek: Domestic Violence; WV Laws You Need to Know Regarding Domestic Violence

It is important to know the laws of the state where you live and how those laws protect us, especially for those who are from out of state attending West Virginia University.

West Virginia law defines domestic violence as “attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cause physical harm to another (with or without dangerous or deadly weapons); placing another in reasonable apprehension of physical harm; creating fear of physical harm by harassment, stalking, psychological abuse or threatening acts; committing either sexual assault or sexual abuse, or holding, confining, detaining or abducting another person against that person's will.”

In West Virginia, a call is placed to the domestic violence hotline every nine minutes. 

If you are a victim of domestic violence you can petition for an emergency protective order. Emergency protective orders are issued if there is believed to be an imminent threat of domestic violence and would cover any children in the marriage or relationship until a family court can make a final decision. These typically last 90 to 180 days. Domestic Violence Protection Orders are the final decision after the emergency protective order. This court order requires that your partner refrains from abusing, harassing, stalking, threatening or intimidating you or anyone included in your petition and that while the order is in effect they may not own or possess a firearm.

If your partner has shared explicit or private photographs without your consent, West Virginia has a law protecting you.

Under WV code 61-8-28 you are protected from being “visually portrayed” while partially or fully nude. If found guilty of invading your privacy, the perpetrator will be charged with a misdemeanor and could face time in a county or regional jail for up to a year. They may also be charged a fine up to $5000.

If a partner—or ex-partner—has been stalking or harassing you to the point you fear for your safety, or for you to suffer significant emotional distress, then your partner can be convicted of a misdemeanor. They could serve time in the county or regional jail for up to six months and could pay a fine up to $1,000—or both. If the perpetrator is convicted of stalking you may be awarded a restraining order of up to 10 years under WV code 61-2-9A.

It is important for everyone in West Virginia to know the laws, but may come in handy for students out of state without family or support ties around them.

This article was written as part of HC at WVU's Domestic Violence Awareness Week. If you or someone you know is struggling from a domestic violence situation, call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.