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(407) 847-8562 / (407) 846-2472 TTY

Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive behavior involving physical, psychological or sexual abuse of one or more family or household member by another. It involves the use of violence, threats, coercion or intimidation for the purpose of maintaining one person’s power and control over another. Domestic violence is a crime!

In Florida Statutes (F.S. 741.28), “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.

Who are the victims of Domestic Violence?

Anyone can be a victim of abuse, and anyone can be an abuser. Abuse knows no economic, cultural, religious or racial bounds. It can happen to anyone and it does! Abuse is NEVER your fault. You have done NOTHING to “deserve” being abused.

Some survivors take action after the first few incidents of abuse, but most hesitate partly because making changes in their life can be very frightening. You may be afraid of how you will deal with parenting, loneliness, finances or safety. You may be concerned about whether counseling will be helpful. It may be terrifying to think of taking legal action against your partner.

If these fears are mixed with feelings of love, the situation becomes even more confusing. Perhaps you feel confused because during an incident of violence you have also defended yourself or your children. Changing or ending an abusive relationship is scary, and taking control of your life is difficult, but Help Now is here to support you.

Definitions Related to Domestic Violence and Abuse

A threat or act to do violence, with the ability to do the violence, creating imminent fear in the victim.

Aggravated Assault
An assault with a deadly weapon without the intent to kill.

To threaten, attempt or actually inflict physical harm on a person. Touching or striking a victim against their will or causing great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement. Throwing objects at another person. Pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping, kicking, biting, hitting or choking.

Sexual Abuse
Includes demanding or withholding sex or the act of forcing sexual acts not accepted by the victim.
Emotional and Psychological Abuse: Refers to the types of behaviors involving psychological and emotional assaults. These include but are not limited to verbal attacks such as ridicule, verbal harassment and name-calling. These assaults are designed to make the victim believe he/she is not worthwhile in order to keep him/her under the control of the abuser.

Used to separate the victim from his/her social support structure. The abuser possibly denies the victim access to finances and other resources, thus limiting his/her independence. The abuser may demonstrate extreme jealousy or possessiveness, such as controlling with whom the victim has contact. Included as well are verbal threats of abuse, harm or torture directed at the victim, his/her family, children or friends, along with damage or destruction of the victim’s property.

To willfully, maliciously and repeatedly follow or harass another. Includes repeated harassing phone calls.

Aggravated Stalking
Stalking with a credible threat to place the victim in fear of death or bodily harm; or if there is an injunction and misdemeanor and stalking occurs. Includes threatening his/her family.

False Imprisonment
Forcibly or by threat or secretly confining, abducting, imprisoning or restraining another person without authority and against his/her will.

Forcibly or by threat or secretly confining, abducting, imprisoning or restraining another person against his/her will and without lawful authority with the intent to: hold for ransom or reward or as a shield or hostage, commit or facilitate the commission of any felony, inflict bodily harm upon or terrorize the victim or another person.