Is a threat to disclose an STD “Abuse” under Oregon’s FAPA statute?

In Oregon, a party who has been “abused” by a family member can apply for a Family Abuse Prevention Act restraining order (“FAPA”). The definition of abuse is defined by statute as:

(a) Attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury.

(b) Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly placing another in fear of imminent bodily injury.

(c) Causing another to engage in involuntary sexual relations by force or threat of force.

In a recent case, The Oregon Court of Appeals had to decide whether a Respondent threatening to reveal that Petitioner had herpes was “abuse” as defined by the statute. A three-judge panel unanimously concluded, “the text  messages do not make any overt or implied threat of bodily injury. Rather, respondent merely threatens in them to reveal to others that petitioner has genital herpes–threats that do not prove by a preponderance of the evidence, ORS 107.710(2), the required showing of abuse.”

Therefore, in order to be “abuse,” a message must make a threat of bodily injury, not merely threaten to disclose embarrassing personal information.

For more information about FAPA restraining orders, see my previous blog on the subject here.