What is Domestic Violence

What is Domestic Violence

It is a pattern of controlling behaviors – violence or threats of violence – that one person uses to establish power over an intimate partner in order to control that partner’s actions and activities. Domestic violence is not a disagreement, a marital spat, or an anger management problem. Domestic violence is abusive, disrespectful, and hurtful behaviors that one intimate partner chooses to use against the other partner.

You may be experiencing domestic violence if your partner is doing any of these or other unwanted behaviors:

  • Hurting you physically – slapping, hair pulling, strangling, hitting, kicking, grabbing, excessively squeezing or shaking, twisting your arms, burning you, or intentionally injuring you in any way
  • Using your children against you
  • Calling you names and hurting you emotionally
  • Harming your pets
  • Acting with extreme jealousy and possessiveness
  • Isolating you from family and friends
  • Threatening to commit suicide or to kill you
  • Controlling your money
  • Withholding medical help
  • Stalking you
  • Demanding sex or unwanted sex practices
  • Withholding medical help
  • Hiding assistive devices
  • Minimizing the destructive behavior
  • Threatening to “out” you if you are Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual or transgendered
  • Controlling you with “that certain look in his eyes” or certain gestures

If you are a victim of abuse, you are never to blame. It is not your fault.
All of the tactics above are abusive, and some may also constitute a crime under Florida Statutes (see definition). 

As defined in law
741.28 Domestic violence; definitions. --As used in ss. 741.28-741.31: "Department" means the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

"Domestic violence" means any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.

"Family or household member" means spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married. With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit.

"Law enforcement officer" means any person who is elected, appointed, or employed by any municipality or the state or any political subdivision thereof who meets the minimum qualifications established in s. 943.13 and is certified as a law enforcement officer under s. 943.1395.

Domestic Violence is an Epidemic

  • One-quarter to one-half of women around the world have suffered violence from an intimate partner. UNICEF, The Progress of Nations, 1997
  • In 1999, persons age 12 or older experienced 791,210 violence crimes by an intimate partner. Women were victims of 85% of the crimes. National Crime Victimization Survey, 1999
  • From 1993 to 1999, intimate partners killed 45% of all female murder victims age 20-24. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2001
  • Women age 35-49 were the most vulnerable to intimate partner murder. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2001
  • A study of public school girls found that 1 in 5 girls surveyed reported physical or sexual abuse by a date. Journal of the American Medical Association, August 2001
  • In Florida, there were 120,697 acts of domestic violence reported to law enforcement in 2003. Florida Department of Law Enforcement website
  • In fiscal year 2003-2004, Florida's domestic violence centers responded to 132,629 crisis calls, provided counseling services to 197,787 individuals, and provided emergency shelter to 14,467 individuals, primarily women and children. Florida Department of Children and Families and Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence statistics, July 2004

Florida Domestic Violence Hotline
FCADV operates the statewide domestic violence hotline. Information is available in English, Spanish, and Creole. From anywhere in Florida, a survivor can access the nearest domestic violence center for emergency services by dialing 1-800-500-1119 and pressing the number 1 after the prompt answers. Legal advice, referrals, and information for victims are available by pressing 3 on the menu. To speak with the FCADV administrative office or obtain resources from the statewide library, press 4 on the menu.

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