This matter comes before the Court for a final hearing on the filing of a complaint pursuant to the provisions of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1990.
The plaintiff and defendant are husband and wife but have been separated, and were living separate and apart at the time of the acts which gave rise to the filing of the domestic violence complaint. There is a prior history of domestic violence between the parties, but the prior complaint was withdrawn by the plaintiff before the final hearing.
The plaintiff testified that on December 25, 1991 at approximately 9 a.m. the defendant entered the plaintiff's apartment, without permission, and notwithstanding the fact that the locks had been changed. The plaintiff was home alone. The defendant proceeded directly to plaintiff's bedroom where plaintiff was in bed. The defendant pulled the plaintiff out of her bed by her hair and punched her about her head. The defendant further brutalized the plaintiff by ripping plaintiff's clothes off and pulling her to the bathroom where he unsuccessfully attempted to push her head in the toilet. Defendant then filled a waste paper basket with water and threw the water in plaintiff's face. After leaving the bathroom the defendant began to torture plaintiff by grabbing her public hair and twisting and pulling at that area. Defendant further grabbed a lamp from a table and threw it at a bathroom mirror destroying the lamp. Finally, the defendant pulled the wire out of the phone so that plaintiff could not call the police, and left the house.
All of the above was done while the parties' children waited in defendant's car which was parked outside the apartment. The children were visiting with the defendant from the night before, Christmas Eve.
On December 26, 1991, the plaintiff filed a complaint pursuant to the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act of 1990 and was granted a temporary restraining order pending a final hearing.
The plaintiff testified that on the day before the final hearing, the defendant again entered the apartment of the plaintiff and with a magic marker printed sexual epithets on her bed sheets. The only justification offered by the defendant for his actions was that he overreacted to the plaintiff seeing other men.
The complaint sought an emergency ex parte order and a final order prohibiting future acts of domestic violence, future contact and harassing communications, and other relief as the Court deemed just and equitable. The parties appeared pro se.
A full trial was held on all issues. Subsequent to a finding of domestic violence pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:25-1, et seq. at the final hearing, the court imposed $1030 of compensatory damages ($1000 for pain and suffering, $30 for property damage) and $5,000 of punitive damages as well as the injunctive relief requested. This opinion is limited to consideration of the propriety of money damages, ...