Domestic Violence

Frequently Asked Questions: A guide to domestic violence law.

What is Domestic Violence

The legal definition of domestic violence

 "Domestic violence" or "abuse" means the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between family or household members, as that term is defined in section two hundred four of this article: (1) Attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing physical harm to another with or without dangerous or deadly weapons; (2) Placing another in reasonable apprehension of physical harm; (3) Creating fear of physical harm by harassment, stalking, psychological abuse or threatening acts; (4) Committing either sexual assault or sexual abuse as those terms are defined in articles eight-b and eight-d, chapter sixty-one of this code; and (5) Holding, confining, detaining or abducting another person against that person's will.

Domestic Violence and Child Abuse

West Virginia law says that domestic violence around children is child abuse. The non-abusing parent should still try to get herself and the child out of the abusive situation. 


 The legal definition of child abuse is:

(A) A parent, guardian or custodian who knowingly or intentionally inflicts, attempts to inflict or knowingly allows another person to inflict, physical injury or mental or emotional injury, upon the child or another child in the home. Physical injury may include an injury to the child as a result of excessive corporal punishment;

     (B) Sexual abuse or sexual exploitation;

     (C) The sale or attempted sale of a child by a parent, guardian or custodian in violation of section fourteen-h, article two, chapter sixty-one of this code; or

     (D) Domestic violence as defined in section two hundred two, article twenty-seven, chapter forty-eight of this code.

Help for Victims

Domestic Violence Programs

If you are a victim of domestic violence, contact S.A.F.E. for assistance. This can include a referral to Legal Aid for free advice or representation in Court.

McDowell County: (304) 436-8117 or 6181

Mercer County: (304) 425-8738 ex. 2102 or (304) 324-7820

Wyoming County: (304) 732-8176 


This is a short video by Legal Aid of WV about a Domestic Violence Protection Order hearing in Family Court.

Legal Aid of WV Information website

Click here to find out more about Domestic Violence Protective Orders