Dispelling Common Myths About Domestic Violence Laws: Debunking Misconceptions for a Safer Society

By Bob Matteucci

Each year, around 17,000 incidents of domestic violence are reported to law enforcement officials across the state of New Mexico. This is a staggering number. But it is even more shocking to consider that it is only a small portion of the domestic abuse occurring in our state. Officials estimate that only 1 in 10 incidents of domestic violence is ever reported. This means around 170,000+ acts of abuse are occuring. 

There are a lot of reasons why victims of domestic abuse suffer in silence rather than coming forward. As a seasoned family law attorney who regularly handles cases where abuse is alleged — but seldom reported — Attorney Bob Matteucci knows that one of the reasons people stay quiet is because they have some misconceptions about New Mexico’s domestic violence laws. 

In this blog post, Bob will debunk some common myths about New Mexico’s domestic violence laws in hopes of helping victims seek the protection and justice they deserve.

First Things First, Don’t Waste Time Reading a Blog Post if You Need Help Right Now

If you are experiencing any form of domestic abuse or violence, you may want to reach out to the New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence for local assistance and information at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). If you are in immediate danger, you should call 911. 

Myth #1: Domestic Violence Only Involves Physical Abuse

One common misconception is that domestic violence is solely characterized by physical abuse. And some individuals believe that legal action can only be taken if the victim has visible injuries. 

In reality, domestic violence encompasses a range of behaviors, including

  • Physical abuse — Any type of violent behavior inflicted on the victim – hitting, biting, slapping, battering, punching, and shoving.
  • Sexual abuse — Coercing or attempting to coerce the victim into having sexual contact or sexual behavior without his or her consent.
  • Emotional abuse — Constant criticism or name calling that harms the victim’s relationship with his or her children or otherwise interferes with the victim’s mental health.
  • Psychological abuse — Intimidation or threats to physically harm the victim or children, isolating the victim from loved ones, or prohibiting the victim from going about their day-to-day life.

New Mexico’s domestic violence laws recognize and address the wide variety of abuse that can occur within intimate relationships. Victims and concerned individuals should be aware that seeking legal protection extends beyond physical harm and includes measures to address various types of abuse.

Myth #2: Domestic Violence Laws Only Apply to Married Couples

Another prevalent myth is that domestic violence laws in New Mexico only apply to married couples. In fact, these laws protect individuals in various domestic relationships, emphasizing the broader goal of protecting vulnerable individuals from harm.

Under our state law it is possible to seek protection from domestic abuse you or your children are suffering at the hands of your:

  • Spouse or former spouse
  • Child’s parent
  • Former romantic partners
  • Parent, present or former stepparent, or present or former parent-in-law
  • Grandparent or grandparent-in-law, or 
  • Child, stepchild, or grandchild

An Order of Protection (commonly known as a restraining order) may also available if you’ve been sexually assaulted or stalked by another person, regardless of your relationship with that individual.

Myth #3: Domestic Violence Laws Are Biased Against Men

A persistent myth is that domestic violence laws primarily favor women over men. In reality, New Mexico’s domestic violence laws are gender-neutral, offering protection to individuals regardless of their gender. 

1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been abused by an intimate partner, and every single one of these victims can seek protection under New Mexico’s domestic violence laws.

Myth #4: If You File for Divorce, Everyone Will Know You Are a Victim of Domestic Abuse 

New Mexico is a no-fault divorce state, which means you do not have to disclose the reason you are seeking a divorce. Nobody will know you are a victim of abuse unless you or your soon-to-be-former partner reveals that information. 

The only reason you may want to share information about your abuse with the court is if you think it is prudent to seek an order of protection (commonly called a restraining order) against your former partner, or you have minor children you fear will be abused if their other parent is awarded physical custody of them. 

If you are a victim of abuse, you should not be afraid to share your story with Attorney Bob Matteucci. Bob and his staff are very discrete and will keep the information you reveal in confidence. Although meeting with an attorney is a difficult step to take, he wants to get you the help you need and keep you and your children safe.

Serving New Mexico Families with Dignity & Compassion 

By debunking misconceptions surrounding domestic violence we can help stop the cycle of abuse and build a better future. 

Attorney Bob Matteucci is ready to help if you need to take civil legal action to legally distance yourself or your children from an abusive family member. Any contact you make with Bob will be held in the strictest confidence. Bob handles these cases quietly and confidentially to protect your privacy and keep you safe.

Please contact Bob today to learn more and to schedule a confidential consultation

About the Author
Bob Matteucci is a board certified family law specialist, with a statewide practice in the area of divorce and family law.