First, we'd like to stress that the reporting of a domestic violence incident is ultimately the victim's decision. The specific actions that a victim should take to obtain protection and justice are also the victim's choice. However, some sort of action should be taken immediately, whether it be to record the incident in writing, or by speaking to family, friends or a domestic abuse counselor. You should also keep records of harassing calls, injuries (photos or hospital report), and anything else related to the incidents of abuse. Many victims who do this find themselves having to file for a restraining order at some point, even if they don't press criminal charges. In many cases, parties offer conflicting stories, and it's hard for the courts to determine who's telling the truth.
The “he said, she said” nature of domestic violence trials can be seen in recent cases such as J.R. v. C.R., which was decided by the Appellate Division on November 2017. The parties in this case were involved in an off and on relationship for several years. The plaintiff was seeking an FRO based on grounds of harassment and assault, based on a predicate act of domestic violence on February 29, 2016. She and the defendant agreed that the relationship had always been rocky, with prior incidents of verbal and physical fighting. On February 29, 2016, the plaintiff was picking her up from work, but what happened in the parking lot is something the courts couldn't quite figure out based on their drastically opposing accounts.
The plaintiff claims the defendant yelled at and grabbed her in the parking lot, and forcibly dragged her into the car. The defendant, on the other hand, said it was the plaintiff who had physically attacked him. He claimed that she punched and kicked him, in addition to kicking his car and tearing off one of the side mirrors. However, he didn't file a complaint against her, which would be to his disadvantage, since he had no way to prove his version of the story. Of course, the plaintiff had no way to prove her case of assault, either. But what she did have was records of at least 50 calls and more than 50 texts that the defendant had sent her on February 29. Hence, she was able to satisfy the court's requirement for a predicate act of harassment under the state's domestic violence laws.
As for assault, neither had proof of who hit who, nor did either party have a story that was credible enough for the court. The Appellate Division upheld the trial court's decision that 50 calls, especially when someone was at work, most definitely indicated a predicate act of harassment. The lesson here is that the plaintiff took action by saving the calls and texts, which eventually allowed her to file for a restraining order. That's why it's important to take immediate action against domestic violence, even if you don't plan on pursuing criminal charges.