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Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive, controlling behaviors that include, but are not limited to, physical assaults, sexual assaults, emotional abuse, isolation, economic coercion, threats, stalking and intimidation. Domestic violence is rooted in a desire by the abuse to establish and maintain power and control over another. Abusive tactics can, and often do, include both criminal and non-criminal acts and are learned through observation, experience, culture and family. Domestic violence is rarely an isolated event, and often occurs in a cycle, with non-violent periods where the abuser is apologetic and romantic. Domestic violence impacts not only those who are abused, but also witnesses, family members, co-workers, friends and the community at large. Abusers abuse because they can.

Has your intimate partner ever:

  • Beaten, bitten, kicked, punched, slapped or shaken you?
  • Strangled you?
  • Stalked you?
  • Continually criticized you?
  • Manipulated you?
  • Humiliated you?
  • Denied you financial resources?
  • Isolated you from family/friends?
  • Denied you medical attention or medication?
  • Threatened you with weapons?
  • Threatened you with beating or with being killed?
  • Threatened to commit suicide?
  • Threatened your family members and/or children?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may be in an abusive relationship and should seek assistance.

Although not every incident of domestic abuse will be classified as a crime, certain types of behaviors are recognized in Mississippi as criminal acts when they are committed against a person with whom the perpetrator has one of the following relationships:

  • A current or former spouse or a child of that person;
  • A person with whom they live as a spouse or who formerly lived as a spouse or a child of that person; 
  • A parent, grandparent, child, grandchild or someone similarly situated; 
  • A current or former dating partner;
  • A person with whom they have a biological or legally adopted child.

Mississippi law recognizes the following behaviors as criminal acts of domestic violence when committed against someone in one of the relationships listed above:

  • M.C.A. §97-3-7(3) - Simple Domestic Violence: intentionally or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person, attempting to cause such injury, or attempting by physical menace to put someone in fear of imminent serious bodily harm. Simple domestic violence is a misdemeanor.
  • M.C.A. §97-3-7(4) - Aggravated Domestic Violence: intentionally or recklessly causing serious bodily injury to another person, attempting to cause such serious bodily injury, or attempting or causing any bodily injury to another person with a deadly weapon or other means likely to produce death or serious bodily harm. Mississippi also recognizes the crime of strangulation, by providing that strangling or attempting to strangle a person in one of the relationships described above is also aggravated domestic violence. Aggravated domestic violence is a felony. Other crimes such as stalking (§97-3-107) or disturbances (97-35-9, 97-35-11, 97-35-13, and 97-35-15) are also considered acts of domestic violence when they occur between persons who are in the relationships listed above.

A protection order for a minor can be sought, but it requires an adult to file on his or her behalf.

Emergency Protection Order may be issued by a municipal , justice or county court upon a finding that the victim is in immediate and present danger of abuse. An emergency order is issued without the abuser being notified. A hearing date will be scheduled usually within ten days whether a judge has issued an emergency order or not. The abuser is given a copy of the petition and any emergency order issue and will be summoned to appear in court for the hearing.

Temporary Protection Order may be issued by the municipal or justice courts. This order can be given after a hearing where both the victim and the abuser have been given an opportunity to testify and present evidence to the court and the court finds that abuse has occurred. Temporary Orders are limited in duration by state law to a maximum of 30 days if the parties have minor children together or to a maximum of 1 year if the parties have no minor children together. IF protection is necessary for a longer period of time, a Final Order of Protection must be obtained.

Final Protection Order may be issued by chancery or county court. Final Protection Orders can be issued after a hearing where both the victim and the abuser have been given an opportunity to testify and present evidence to the court and the court finds that abuse has occurred. Final Orders can be issued for as long as the issuing judge determines. Final Orders may contain temporary custody, visitation or support of minor children provisions. These provisions, however, will automatically expire at 180 days and the status of custody, visitation, and support reverts back to what it was before the protection order was issued. To address these issues on a permanent basis, a separate custody action must be filed in chancery court.

Domestic violence can happen anywhere. If you know someone is being abused, please refer to the Resources section for information on who to contact for help.

Mississippi Attorney General’s Office, Bureau of Victim Assistance 800-829-6766

National Domestic Violence Hotline - 1-800-799-7233

National Sexual Assault Hotline - 1-800-656-4673

National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline - 1-866-331-9474

Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence - 1-800-898-3234


You may contact a local domestic violence shelter for additional information and assistance in developing a personalized plan for safety. A complete listing of domestic abuse shelters in Mississippi is avaliable at

Disclaimer: The Mississippi Attorney General’s Office is not responsible for the content of listed websites, which may have changed since review.

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