Domestic Violence Torts: Righting a Civil Wrong

65 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2014 Last revised: 14 Oct 2014

See all articles by Camille Carey

Camille Carey

University of New Mexico - School of Law

Date Written: June 10, 2014


Tort law, especially personal injury law, has become an integral aspect of American society. Domestic violence injuries – including physical injury, pain and suffering, and death – have been conspicuously absent from the development of tort law. The common law history of chastisement, coverture, and spousal immunity contributed to the current dearth of domestic violence tort claims. Today tort law offers a number of underused claims that can be used to address domestic violence harms. Victims can use existing common law causes of action – such as battery, assault, and intentional infliction of emotional distress – to sue their abusers for abusive conduct. Specific causes of action for domestic and gender-motivated violence also offer ready remedies to victims of domestic violence. Through these actions, victims can achieve financial compensation for harm, obtain therapeutic outcomes, and seek deterrence of the abuser’s conduct. Domestic violence tort claims should be pursued aggressively and frequently and should become a prominent approach to addressing domestic violence.

Keywords: tort law, domestic violence, gender-motivated violence, assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, therapeutic jurisprudence

Suggested Citation

Carey, Camille, Domestic Violence Torts: Righting a Civil Wrong (June 10, 2014). Kansas Law Review, Vol. 62, p. 695, 2014, UNM School of Law Research Paper No. 2014-20, Available at SSRN:

Camille Carey (Contact Author)

University of New Mexico - School of Law ( email )

1117 Stanford, N.E.
Albuquerque, NM 87131
United States

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