What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. In Florida, the legal definition of domestic violence is defined in Florida Statue 741.28 as "any assault . . . or any criminal offense resulting in the physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member" When a person commits an illegal act of domestic violence, law enforcement can become involved. Often there is domestic violence that does not meet the legal definition, but this can be just as devastating for the victim and their family.
Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats which include any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone. Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. It can happen between couples who are married, living together or who are dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.
Please remember that the definition of domestic violence is very broad. If you have any questions about your situation, please contact the FJC.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: A pattern of abusive behavior that keeps one partner in a position of power over the other partner through the use of fear, intimidation and control.
PHYSICAL ABUSE: Grabbing, pinching, shoving, slapping, hitting, hair pulling, biting, etc. Denying medical care or forcing alcohol and/or drug use.
SEXUAL ABUSE: Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact without consent, e.g., marital rape, forcing sex after physical beating, attacks on sexual parts of the body or treating another in a sexually demeaning manner.
ECONOMIC ABUSE: Making or attempting to make a person financially dependent, e.g., maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding access to money, forbidding attendance at school or employment.
EMOTIONAL ABUSE: Undermining a person's sense of self-worth, e.g., constant criticism, belittling one's abilities, name calling, damaging a partner's relationship with the children.
PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE: Causing fear by intimidation, threatening physical harm to self, partner or children, destruction of pets and property, mind games or forcing isolation from friends, family, school and/or work.
YOU MAY BE IN AN EMOTIONALLY ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP IF YOUR PARTNER:
YOU MAY BE IN A PHYSICALLY ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP IF YOUR PARTNER HAS EVER:
- Calls you names, insults you or continually criticizes you.
- Does not trust you and acts jealous or possessive.
- Tries to isolate you from family or friends.
- Monitors where you go, who you call and who you spend time with.
- Does not want you to work.
- Controls finances or refuses to share money.
- Punishes you by withholding affection.
- Expects you to ask permission.
- Threatens to hurt you, the children, your family or your pets.
- Humiliates you in any way.
YOU MAY BE IN A SEXUALLY ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP IF YOUR PARTNER:
- Damaged property when angry (thrown objects, punched walls, kicked doors, etc.).
- Pushed, slapped, bitten, kicked or choked you.
- Abandoned you in a dangerous or unfamiliar place.
- Scared you by driving recklessly.
- Used a weapon to threaten or hurt you.
- Forced you to leave your home.
- Trapped you in your home or kept you from leaving.
- Prevented you from calling police or seeking medical attention.
- Hurt your children.
- Used physical force in sexual situations.
- Views women as objects and believes in rigid gender roles.
- Accuses you of cheating or is often jealous of your outside relationships.
- Wants you to dress in a sexual way.
- Insults you in sexual ways or calls you sexual names.
- Has ever forced or manipulated you into to having sex or performing sexual acts.
- Held you down during sex.
- Demanded sex when you were sick, tired or after beating you.
- Hurt you with weapons or objects during sex.
- Involved other people in sexual activities with you.
- Ignored your feelings regarding sex.
If you know someone who is being abused, do not look the other way.
- Let her/him know you are concerned about her/him.
- Offer to listen.
- Respect her/his choices, but encourage her/him to talk with professionals about safety issues.
- Offer as much help as you can, but do not take risks with your own safety. Examples of help: childcare, transportation, a
place to stay, a job, lending money.
- Give her/him a copy of the safety planning worksheet.