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Domestic Violence

Student Legal Services - ASUW

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence Defined
Domestic violence, or violence of any kind between people involved in intimate relationships, is a serious issue. Understanding the dynamics of battering relationships is the first step towards breaking the cycle of violence within relationships.

Domestic violence can affect anyone, regardless of age, economic status, location, race, religion or profession. Anyone can be an abuser just as anyone could be abused. It happens in nice neighborhoods and in slums, among well to do couples and among those struggling with poverty. 


It occurs in both opposite-sex and same-sex relationships. Domestic violence is best described as a pattern of behavior in which one intimate partner uses physical violence, coercion, threats, intimidation, isolation and emotional, sexual or economic abuse to control and change the behavior of the other partner. Battering happens when one person believes that he or she is entitled to control another. Abuse generally falls into one or more of the following categories: physical battering, sexual assault and emotional or psychological abuse. Abuse generally escalates over a period of time.

Domestic violence is really about one person getting and keeping power and control over the other person in the relationship. The abuser could be a husband or a wife, an ex-spouse, a boyfriend or girlfriend or someone you live with or are dating.

Who is Affected 
Domestic violence does primarily affect women - 95% of the victims of domestic violence are women. Over half of all women will become the target of physical violence in an intimate relationship, and for about 24% to 30% of those women, the abuse and battering will be regular and on-going. Most abusers are men. There is no one kind of man who is an abuser; he can be any personality, any size. Although most of the known victims of domestic violence are female, men can also be abused by their partners, and domestic violence can also occur in gay and lesbian relationships.

Because domestic violence is such a prevalent and serious problem affecting so many people, it is important to acknowledge the problem and be aware of the law and options that victims have to protect themselves.

In Wyoming
Under Wyoming state law, "domestic abuse" occurs when a member of your household does any of these things to you:

  • Physically hurts or abuses you;
  • Threatens to physically hurt/abuse you or tries to physically hurt you;
  • Does anything to restrain you or take away your personal liberty (such as holding you down or locking you in a room or closet, etc.;
  • Causes you to have a reasonable fear that the person is going to physically hurt you in the near future; or
  • Forces you to have sex or engage in other sexual activity by forcing you or threatening you.

Domestic Violence Orders of Protection in Wyoming
This is a paper signed by a judge that tells your abuser to stop his or her abusive behavior or face serious legal consequences. It is available for both men and women who are victims of violence.

An order of protection may help you be safer in several ways. It may order the abuser:

  • not to abuse you;
  • to move out if you live together;
  • to stop contacting you; or
  • to stay away from where you live, work and go to school.

An order of protection can also help by letting the judge:

  • Make other decisions, usually temporary, that affect your family and children if there are any involved;
  • Order the abuser to obtain counseling;
  • Order the abuser to pay for medical costs you have incurred as a result of the abuse; or
  • Issue orders or make other decisions that will help to get you relief from the abuser.

The judge will decide what to order based on the facts of your situation.

Types of Orders of Protection in Wyoming
There are two types: Ex Parte Temporary Orders and Final Domestic Violence Orders of Protection. 
If a judge believes that you are in immediate danger from an abuser, an Ex Parte Temporary Order of Protection may be issued. "Ex parte" means that the judge will make the decision to issue this order based only on the information that you provide to the court and without any input from the abuser in the situation. This kind of temporary order will only last until a full court hearing takes place which is usually within 72 hours.

A Final Domestic Violence Order of Protection may last for a fixed period of time not to exceed one year and it may be extended for additional time periods. To get this kind of order, you must have a hearing in front of a judge, where both you and your abuser will have an opportunity to tell your sides of the story.

Who Can Get A Domestic Violence Order of Protection? 

  • If you are 16 years of age or older, you can ask the court for a Domestic Violence Order of Protection as an adult when you have been abused by:
  • Your spouse (husband or wife);
  • Your ex-spouse (husband or wife);
  • Someone you currently live with or have lived with in the past (live-in boyfriend or girlfriend);
  • The parent of your child;
  • Your adult children;
  • Someone you live with regardless of your relationship to them;
  • Someone you are dating; or
  • Someone you have dated in the past.

See the Wyoming Domestic Violence Protection Act, Wyoming Statute 35-21-101.

During a Divorce
In Wyoming, the court will consider evidence of spousal abuse or child abuse as being contrary to the best interest of the children. If the court finds that family violence has occurred, the court will make arrangements for visitation that best protect the children and the abused spouse from further harm. Domestic violence can complicate divorce proceedings, so you should speak with your attorney about DV if it is an issue in the marriage. You may also wish to obtain an order of protection at any time during divorce proceedings to protect yourself or your family.

Domestic Violence While Dating
Many young people in college are not married, but are interested in dating. It's important to have information about your rights in this type of situation. Violence can happen in a dating relationship as well.

I am worried that a friend or family member is being abused by his or her partner. What can I do to help? 
If you are concerned, there are many ways to help a friend. The Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence put together this checklist of how to help a friend:

Things to think about:

  • Have you seen evidence of injuries?
  • Have you accepted explanations for her black eyes, bruises or broken bones?
  • Does she miss work or school frequently?
  • Does her partner show an unusual amount of control over her life?
  • Have you noticed changes in her (or her children's) behavior?
  • Does her partner embarrass or ridicule her in public?
  • Does her partner blame her for the way he acts or the things he says?

If you know someone who is in a violent relationship, listen first. Let your friend speak confidentially about her situation. There are many ways you can show a friend you care and help her to feel more confident to get help. Please refer to the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence website for more information regarding domestic violence statistics, information for friends and family, and safety tips.


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Julianne Gern

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Email: sls@uwyo.edu

1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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