If you've been accused of domestic violence and violent behavior and taken to court, one of the things you may want to do to defend yourself is to discuss why your acts were actually done in self-defense. Self-defense, as a defense in law, allows you to admit that you were violent or did participate in assaulting someone, but you can also show that you only did so to protect yourself. If you can prove that you were in danger, you may not be found guilty of domestic violence.
Here's a good example. If you're at home and your significant other hits you and threatens to cut you, you will find yourself in enough danger that you'll need to defend yourself. At that point, if you kick or hit the other person and injure him or her, that was out of self-defense and fear for your life. It's important to know that the court will look at the way you attacked and determine if you had a reasonable response to being attacked.
What's a reasonable response? Consider this situation. If you're being hit by someone and are able to walk away or strike back, then a reasonable response would be to strike them once or to walk away. However, if you were to pull a gun and kill the person, that may not be accepted as reasonable, because there are non-lethal ways to fight back. However, if your life was being threatened, then shooting someone may be considered to be reasonable force.
Whenever you find yourself in this kind of situation, you need to remember to defend yourself from the start. It's easy for the other side to say that you started the problem and were the aggressor, but with the right evidence, you'll have the law on your side.
Source: FindLaw, "Self-Defense Overview," accessed June 29, 2015