Protections against Domestic Violence in Wisconsin

Recent events have highlighted the issue of domestic violence in Wisconsin.   First, Zina Haughton and her co-workers at the Azana Spa in Brookfield were shot and killed by her estranged husband.  Then, shortly afterwards, a man took his ex-wife hostage and shot at responding police in Waukesha.

Although severe, these are by no means isolated incidents.  Domestic violence is rampant and prevalent everywhere.  The Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WCADV) released a report showing that, in 2010, 58 people were killed in 39 incidents of domestic abuse. These totals were down from 2009, which saw 67 deaths and 57 incidents and marked the highest number of domestic violence homicides a ten years. In 2010, seven individuals killed themselves after taking the life of a current or former intimate partner.

Domestic abuse isn’t just necessarily physical violence, either.  The statutes defines domestic violence as any of the following engaged in by an adult person against his or her spouse or former spouse, against an adult with whom the person resides or formerly resided or against an adult with whom the person has a child in common:

1. Intentional infliction of physical pain, physical injury or illness.

2. Intentional impairment of physical condition.

3. A violation of s. 940.225 (1), (2) or (3) (Sexual abuse)

4. A physical act that may cause the other person reasonably to fear imminent engagement in the conduct described under subd. 1., 2. or 3.

Even though you may not want to believe that your partner or former partner will harm you or your children, the statistics show otherwise.  You must assume the worse when you are a victim of domestic abuse and take all appropriate precautions, including seeking help from the legal system.

There are two main ways to protect yourself against domestic violence through the legal system:  call the police and obtain a domestic abuse restraining order.  In the following blog posts, we discuss each of those options separately.

The American Bar Association has put out a checklist of additional things you can do to protect yourself from domestic violence.  Following these tips and suggestions may save your life! 

New Protections in Wisconsin for Domestic Violence Victims

Governor Scott Walker signed several new bills into law this week which grant greater protection for domestic violence victims.

One law- called the TraJa Act- was named after Tracy Judd and her daughter Deja who were murdered in a domestic violence incident in Madison in 2009.   This law makes a third domestic violence conviction within 10 years a felony and gives judges the ability to impose harsher penalties on repeat domestic violence offenders.  It also expands the definition of a repeat offender as someone who commits domestic violence within 72 hours of a prior domestic violence arrest.  Another bill which was signed also allows judges to treat committing an act of domestic violence in front of a child as an aggravating factor during sentencing.

Gov. Walker also signed into law a measure which allows victims of domestic violence and stalking to keep a name change confidential.  Current law requires that public notice be published prior to a name change.

For more information about how to obtain restraining orders to protect against domestic violence, please see our website.