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Cyber Harassment is Domestic Violence in New Jersey

Boy getting punched in the face to illustrate cyber harassment is domestic violence

While we often think of domestic violence only in the context of physical abuse of one spouse by another, domestic violence can take many forms.  Below, learn about the different forms of harassment prohibited by New Jersey law, and contact an experienced New Jersey domestic violence attorney for additional help.

The types of domestic violence in New Jersey

Section 2C:25-19 of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Conduct, part of New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA), lists out the various types of behavior that qualify as “domestic violence.”  Included are physically violent behavior such as homicide, assault, kidnapping and false imprisonment, as well as burglary and robbery.  Importantly, domestic violence goes beyond physical harm.  We live in an era that recognizes that sexual assault and lewdness, even if by a spouse or domestic partner, also qualify as domestic violence.  Further, domestic violence includes threatening or harassing behavior such as stalking, threats, or criminal coercion.  In 2016, New Jersey amended the PDVA to add cyber-harassment to the list of domestic violence behaviors.

Cyber-harassment

Section 2C:33-4.1 defines cyber-harassment as online behavior that:

  • Threatens physical injury
  • Sends posts, comments, or requests for any lewd or obscene materials with the intent to emotionally harm the victim
  • Threatens any crime against the person or the person’s property

Cyber-harassment is more than just teasing someone online.  Abusers use online platforms to terrorize, humiliate, and control.  Harassment can take the form of leaving inappropriate comments, hacking into a social media account, cyberstalking via creation of fake accounts or installing a tracking device to monitor a victim’s online activities, or sharing lewd photos and videos without consent, among other behaviors.  Harassment can come from threatening emails, texts, or comments on social media that makes a person feel unsafe.  It is a crime in its own right, regardless of whether it also qualifies as domestic violence.  In order to demonstrate that cyber-harassment is an act of domestic violence, a victim must also show that they have or had an intimate relationship with the abuser, including romantic relationships (whether cohabitating or otherwise) as well as platonic roommate arrangements.

Remedies for domestic abuse

Victims of domestic can seek protective orders limiting or prohibiting contact with the abuser, can file lawsuits against abusers seeking recovery for losses and expenses such as medical bills or pain and suffering, including mental anguish, and, for parents with shared children, can seek custody and spousal support orders.    

If you or a loved one have been the victim of domestic violence, call the compassionate and dedicated family law attorneys at the Englewood offices of Herbert & Weiss for a free consultation or immediate assistance at 201-440-6300.

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