What Is Domestic Violence?

What Is Domestic Violence?

January 1, 2019 Off By Glespynorson

Domestic violence occurs within the home. It does not necessarily involve persons related by blood or marriage. Many people erroneously believe that domestic violence involves only physical abuse, no; it goes beyond that even though the effects of physical abuse are more obvious than the other types.

Domestic violence is the exercise of power and control by one partner over another through subtle or obvious acts of abuse/violence. It is disrespectful, abusive and hurtful behavior to the victim. It could be in form of threats, abuse or coercion, with perpetuators sometimes going as far as using children, other relatives, close friends and pets as a means to their ends.

According to the Florida crime laws, domestic violence is defined as specified types of violence committed against a family or household member. It could be committed against a spouse, ex-spouse, the co-parent of the individual’s child or a relative related to the individual by blood or marriage. Also protected by the law are individuals currently or previously cohabitating, individuals in current or former dating relationship.

Forms of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is of different forms and varies in severity, method, purpose and frequency.

Florida law recognizes assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping and others as forms of crimes qualifying as domestic violence.

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But aside that, there are basically 4 recognized forms of domestic violence –

  • Physical violence – is the most easily identifiable form of domestic violence though not really the most pervasive. Physical contact is used by one intimate partner against another – male or female. Shoving, strangulation, biting, choking, hitting, restraining, acid attacks, assault with weapon or threats of these among others are instances of physical abuse.
  • Psychological violence – also called emotional abuse – is a less obvious form of domestic violence and can be characterized as isolation, intimidation, dehumanization and threats of harm. These result in systematic impairing of the victim’s self-worth and psychological integrity. It can take diverse forms ranging from excess supervision and control, instilling fear, to public humiliation, gaslighting, continuous criticism, stalking and lots of other psychological manipulations.
  • Sexual abuse is defined by WHO as – any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person’s sexuality using coercion. Also included is female genital mutilation and obligatory inspection for virginity.
  • Financial/economic abuse – occurs when one partner controls or restricts the other partner’s access and use of financial resources. This reduces the victim’s ability to cater and support herself resulting in dependence on the perpetrator.

The laws against domestic violence

Domestic violence occurs in family relationships making it difficult to identify, report and prosecute.

In Florida law, criminal offense charges for domestic violence depends on the specific circumstance and event.

Punishment for domestic violence in Florida include a minimum of 5 days served in county jail or state prison or probation or community service – as the Court deems fit. Domestic violence can be charged as assault or battery, (misdemeanor or felony of first, second or third degree) with the corresponding punishments. State laws are subject to change though.

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If you are in an abusive relationship or you know someone who is, seek help and support. Silence empowers and emboldens the perpetrator. If you feel you have been unfairly charged with domestic violence, seek the counsel of a qualified domestic violence attorney near you.

Steven Winig, Esq. is a West Palm Beach Family Law Attorney with over 30 years of knowledge and practice with domestic abuse cases.