What Is Domestic Violence and How to Escape?
Domestic violence is a tragic reality for tens of thousands of Floridians every year. Most people automatically associate domestic violence with physical abuse, which is certainly one of the most well-known forms of aggression a spouse or intimate partner may use. However, domestic violence is much more expansive than solely physical violence, but those suffering from other types of abuse may not recognize there is a problem, or that a legal option exists to help them get away. Regardless of the type of abuse committed by a spouse or intimate partner, anyone living in fear needs to seek help to leave the situation, using both family and community resources to find a safe place to stay and reestablish a home and sense of autonomy/safety. A discussion of the various types of domestic violence, signs of abusive behavior in a relationship, and the way the law treats domestic violence, will follow below.
Types of Domestic Violence
Looking at the definition of domestic violence in Florida law, any examples of the following types of behavior would be considered abuse and likely impact divorce issues, as well as the issuance of a restraining order:
- Aggravated assault;
- Aggravated battery;
- Sexual assault;
- Sexual battery;
- Aggravated stalking;
- False imprisonment; or
- Any other crime resulting in physical injury or death.
Domestic violence is mainly about retaining control over a spouse or partner by using power tactics, such as violence, threats, emotional manipulation, and withholding money to restrict their ability to leave the relationship. Thus, in addition to physical acts that cause visible injury, threats to injure, psychological/emotional abuse, and blocking access to money and other financial resources would also be considered forms of domestic abuse.
Signs of Abuse
As mentioned above, unless a spouse is hitting the other person on a regular basis, a victim may think the situation is normal or that the abuser will eventually stop. Someone willing to hurt another, whether physically, emotionally, or financially, almost never stops unless forced by something from the outside. The following are signs that commonly appear when abuse is present in a relationship:
- Frequent insults;
- Constantly saying the other partner is not good enough or loveable;
- Excessive jealousy;
- Extreme possessiveness;
- Frequent episodes of irrational anger;
- Isolating the other person from friends and family;
- Not allowing the other person to share feelings or opinions;
- Feeling unsafe;
- Destruction of property;
- Threats to hurt the spouse or loved ones; and
- Financial control.
If these warning signs exist, the victimized partner needs to leave and take the children with him/her to cut off further escalation and possible tragedy. The Tampa area has a number of resources to help victims of domestic violence find refuge and support as they transition out of abuse, including shelters, legal assistance, and places to report abuse.
When a person wants to exit an abusive relationship, the biggest concern is keeping the violence from recurring. An injunction for protection is a court order that demands the abuser cut off all contact with the victim, and usually also forces him/her to move out of the family home, pay child support, and see children on a restricted basis. A family law attorney can assist with obtaining this order, and if violated, police are automatically authorized to arrest the abuser, and the State can file criminal charges. In a subsequent divorce, domestic violence mainly affects child custody, as the welfare of the child will always be at risk, and a court will likely order some form of supervised visitation. In addition, if financial abuse was present, such as withholding money or stopping a spouse from working, the division of property may favor the victim, so he/she has sufficient resources to start a new life.
Speak to an Attorney
Leaving an abusive relationship takes a lot of strength and courage, and the services of an experienced family law attorney will ensure your abuser knows to stay away and you get a fair settlement in divorce. The attorneys at the All Family Law Group, P.A. know the struggles you face, and can help you put together the blocks you need to move forward. Contact the Tampa divorce attorneys and family lawyers at All Family Law Group, P.A. in Tampa Bay for a consultation at no charge. They can be reached at 813-672-1900.
by Lynette Silon-Laguna Google+