Defining a Dating Relationship for Violence Protection Purposes

Jane is a professional cyclist. She met John while she was touring, and they became friends. They spent time together, went out to dinner occasionally, and affectionately hugged each other. They had one kiss together, and John even stayed at Jane’s home for a few days, but they were never romantically involved. Sadly, John wanted to be more than friends, and even sent Jane nude photos of himself, but Jane told John she was not interested in a romantic relationship with him.

According to Jane, John did not take her rejection well. In fact, things go so bad she filed for a restraining order under the Domestic Violence Protection Act (DVPA). In her documents she stated that John came to her house at 3:30 in the morning, and began banging on the door and windows. After that, he repeatedly harassed her by sending text messages to her, posting her personal information and photos of her on Facebook, posting videos of her on YouTube, and sending private messages to individuals sharing personal information about her. In John’s text messages to Jane, he called her a “psycho evil witch” and “a compulsive liar.” He also claimed she had lied about him and destroyed his life.

	The Domestic Violence Protection Act was enacted to provide relief to anyone
	 in a martial, co-habitational or dating relationship who has suffered
	 from abuse from the other person. The Act defines a dating relationship
	 as: “…frequent, intimate associations primarily characterized
	 by the expectation of affection or sexual involvement independent of financial
	 considerations.”

	At the trial court level, John argued that Jane was not entitled to protection
	 under the DVPA because they were not current or former spouses or co-habitants,
	 nor did they have a dating relationship.

	The trial court determined that they did have a dating relationship stating:
	 “…you do have a [dating] relationship by this evidence. All
	 of the evidence shows there was an expectation of affection or desire
	 to have affection . . . So although you guys may have called it ‘We
	 are not dating’ or ‘We don’t want to date,’ you
	 certainly have all the attributes, it looks like, [of a dating relationship]
	 under [section] 6210 of the Family Code.”

By determining a dating relationship existed and that John’s actions toward Jane were abusive, the court granted Jane’s request for a restraining order against John.

John appealed.

The appellate court agreed with the trial court in that there was ample evidence to determine a dating relationship for the purpose of the DVPA, even though the parties had never, in fact, dated each other.

Categories: Domestic Violence
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