Victims of abuse have many reasons for not reporting prior acts of domestic violence – either to friends, family, co-workers, etc. or the police. Logically, the failure to report does not negate the fact that the abuse happened. One would think that judges hearing domestic violence, more so than most people, would not that given
Under the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, a “victim” of domestic violence is entitled to entry of a Final Restraining Order. N.J.S.A. 2C:25-29. The Act defines “victim of domestic violence” as including “any person who has been subjected to domestic violence by a person with whom the victim has had a dating relationship”. However, what is the definition of “dating relationship” and does a “dating relationship” exist if the relationship is formed by the exchange of monetary benefits?
In the recently published decision of J.S. v. J.F. (App.Div. December 10, 2009), while the Appellate Division found that a “dating relationship” existed based upon the factual circumstances of the case, the Appellate Division did discuss the definition of a “dating relationship” and the impact on a Domestic Violence Complaint, or lack thereof, of a monetary benefit received as a result of a relationship.
Defendant in the J.S. matter argued that the Plaintiff did not qualify as a victim of domestic violence because Defendant paid for Plaintiff’s company. Defendant asserted that his relationship with Plaintiff, who worked as a dancer at a local club, was “professional” and that he paid Plaintiff to be his escort. Plaintiff asserted that she had a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship with Defendant, that she had been to his home, met his parents, and spent time together including weekends. During trial, Plaintiff presented text messages from Defendant threatening her and her boyfriend and disparaging her.