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Frequently Asked Questions
What is domestic violence?
- Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors that individuals use against their intimate partners or former partners to establish power and control. It may include physical, sexual, emotional, spiritual, or economic abuse, as well as the use of threats, isolation, pet abuse, using children as pawns, and a variety of other behaviors to maintain power over one’s partner through violence, fear and intimidation. It is important to note that many acts of domestic violence are also crimes. Florida Statutes define domestic violence as 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.
- Domestic violence is a pervasive, life-threatening crime that affects millions of individuals across the United States regardless of age, economic status, race, religion or education.
Prevalence of Domestic Violence in Florida
- The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s most recent Uniform Crime Report (2011) reflected that 111,682 domestic violence offenses were reported to law enforcement resulting in 68,001 arrests.
- In 2011, 192 individuals died as a result of domestic violence, representing 19.5% of all homicides in Florida.
- High-profile cases of domestic violence will attract headlines, but thousands of people experience domestic abuse every day. Domestic violence does not discriminate. Batterers abuse regardless of socioeconomic status, age, religion or ethnicity.
- Florida’s 42 certified domestic violence centers provided shelter to 15,997 individuals during fiscal year 2011-2012.
- Children who fled to shelter with a parent, primarily their mother, accounted for 47% of shelter residents.
- Domestic violence survivors and their children spent 485,727 nights in shelter.
- Advocates received 125,631 crisis hotline calls.
- 36,389 women, children and men received outreach services through a certified domestic violence center.
What are resources available for those experiencing domestic violence?
- The Florida Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24-hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year at-1-800-500-1119.
- Florida’s 42 certified domestic violence centers are the first line of defense in achieving safety and independence for domestic violence survivors and their children by providing a place to flee from violent homes.
- Certified domestic violence centers are located throughout the state and range from 14 to 132 bed facilities for survivors and their children in imminent danger.
- In addition to emergency shelter, certified centers provide an array of services such as: a 24-hour hotline, safety planning, counseling, referral, case management, child assessment, children’s services, food, clothing, outreach services, community education, and a host of other community specific services.
- Advocates in certified centers provided a total of 455,994 hours of outreach and counseling to 59,953 participants, created 90,129 tailored safety plans and offered 659,035 direct service, information and referrals to survivors, family members, and friends seeking assistance.
- Before using online resources, know that your computer or phone may not be safe. Some abusers are misusing technology to stalk and track all of a partner’s activities.
Why do survivors sometimes return to or stay with abusers?
- A better question is, “Why does the abuser choose to abuse?”
- There is a real fear of death or more abuse if they leave.
- Batterers are very good at transferring their responsibility and making survivors think that the abuse is their fault. Survivors may believe that if they caused the violence, they can also stop it. The responsibility for the abuse lies solely with the batterer.
- Batterers make it very difficult for survivors to escape relationships. Sadly, many suffer from abuse for decades.
- Abusers often withhold money or use other economic-related tactics to prevent a survivor from having the financial means to leave.
- Abusers are extraordinarily manipulative and persuasive and sometimes convince their partner that they have changed and the abuse will stop.
- Survivors sometimes want the abuse to end, not the relationship.
- It’s important for survivors to know that the abuse is not their fault, and they are not alone. Help is available for those who suffer from domestic violence.
Do abusers show any potential warning signs?
- There is no way to spot an abuser in a crowd, but most abusers share some common characteristics.
- Some of the subtle warning signs include:
- They insist on moving too quickly into a relationship.
- They can be very charming and may seem too good to be true.
- They often insist that you stop participating in leisure activities or spending time with family and friends.
- They are extremely jealous or controlling.
- They do not take responsibility for their actions and blame others for everything that goes wrong.
- They criticize their partner’s appearance and make frequent put-downs.
- Their words and actions don’t match.
- Any one of these behaviors may not indicate abusive actions, but it’s important to know the red flags and take time to explore them.
Is it possible for abusers to change?
- Yes, but they must make the choice to change.
- Sometimes an abuser stops the physical violence, but continues to employ other forms of abuse – emotional, sexual, or financial. Some abusers are able to exert complete control over every action without using violence or only using subtle threats of violence.
Are men victims of domestic violence?
- Yes, men are sometimes victims of domestic abuse.
- A 2001 U.S. study revealed that 85 percent of the victims were female with a male batterer.
- One in four women will be the victim of domestic violence at some point in her lifetime.
- Women are 90-95 percent more likely to suffer domestic violence than are men.
- When we talk about domestic violence, we’re not talking about men versus women or women versus men. We’re talking about violence versus peace. We’re talking about control versus respect.
- Domestic violence affects us all, and all of us – women, children and men – must be part of the solution.
How does the economy affect domestic violence?
- A sour economy does not cause domestic violence.
- The severity and frequency of abuse can increase when factors associated with a bad economy are present.
- Job loss, housing foreclosures, debt, and other factors contribute to higher stress levels at home, which can lead to increased violence.
- As the violence gets worse, a weak economy limits options for survivors to seek safety or escape.
- Survivors may have a more difficult time finding employment, transportation and safe, affordable housing to become financially independent of abusers.
Are the terms domestic violence survivor and victim interchangeable?
Many times survivor and victim are used interchangeably. In general, survivors of domestic violence have preferred language that supports their survivorhood rather than their victimization. Therefore, in most cases we use the term survivor for someone who is experiencing and/or has escaped domestic violence. We use the term victim when referring to an individual who has died or lost their life as a result of domestic violence.
 Florida Statutes 741.28
 Bachman, R. and Salzman, L., U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Violence Against Women: Estimates From the Redesigned Survey 1. (January 2000).
 U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Homicide Trends in the U.S. from 1976-2005. U.S. Department of Justice (2008).
 Rennison, C.M., U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Crime Data Brief, Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001. (2003).
 U.S. Department of Justice. Violence by Intimates: Analysis of Data on Crimes by Current or Former Spouses, Boyfriends, and Girlfriends. (1998).
 Rennison, C.M. and Welchans, S., U.S. Department of Justice. Intimate Partner Violence. (2000).