Vinson v. Kinsey – Survivor’s Ongoing Contact With the Person Who is Abusive Does Not Mean Abuse Did Not Happen
In Vinson v. Kinsey, the survivor asked the trial court for a domestic violence restraining order because her ex-partner physically abused her and threatened to kill her. In addition to her declaration, the survivor provided the court with six written declarations from witnesses to verbal abuse and/or her physical injuries. The survivor also gave the court copies of text messages where her ex-partner admitted that he had threatened to kill her and admitted to hitting her in the past. Despite this evidence, the trial court denied the survivor’s request for a restraining order, concluding that the survivor was not “concerned” about her ex-partner’s “comment that he would kill her” because she continued to have contact with him. The appellate court overturned the trial court’s decision to deny the restraining order and sent the case back for the trial court to decide whether a restraining order should be issued. The appellate court explained that threats do not need to be threats of violence to constitute abuse under California law. The appellate court further noted that “other aspects of the trial court’s ruling [were] also troubling,” namely that the trial court wrongly focused on the survivor’s continued contact with her ex-partner. In doing this, the trial court “effectively imposed on [her] a singular vision of how an abused woman should act” when “[all] women exposed to violence and abuse . . . do not respond similarly.” FVAP successfully co-counseled this matter with Latham & Watkins, LLP.
FVAP is thankful to have co-counseled with Latham & Watkins, LLP on this matter.
The appellate court’s published opinion can be found here.