What Is Domestic Violence?

Also called intimate partner violence or domestic abuse, domestic violence is a pattern of behavior used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Although physical abuse is the most recognizable form of domestic violence, domestic violence consists of “physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person.” These behaviors are designed to frighten, manipulate, humiliate, hurt, and ultimately, control the victim.

Victims of domestic violence may feel like they are “walking on eggshells” around their partner, have low feelings of self-worth, and fear what would happen if they left the relationship. Often, abusive people keep their victims away from friends and family and prevent them from having a full, meaningful life outside of the relationship. Anyone can become a victim of domestic violence, which can happen inside or outside of the home.

In Florida, the law makes a distinction between domestic violence, or violence that occurs within the home or between individuals who share one or more children, and dating violence, which occurs between individuals in dating relationships. Under Florida’s definition, child abuse falls under the category of domestic violence.

Types of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological and includes behavior like threats, stalking, and cyberstalking.

Physical abuse manifests itself as hitting, pushing, choking, or otherwise inflicting violence on the victim. Forcing someone to use drugs or alcohol or keeping someone from seeking medical treatment are also forms of physical abuse.

Sexual abuse consists of coerced or nonconsensual sexual activity or behavior meant to humiliate the victim, sexually. Sexual abuse may take the form of rape, sexual acts that the victim is not comfortable with, groping, and even telling sexually explicit “jokes” about the victim.

Emotional abuse is a tool abusive people use to deflate their victims’ feelings of self-worth and self-esteem. Constant criticism, name-calling, and interfering with the victim’s close relationships are all examples of emotional abuse.

Economic abuse happens when the abusive person tries to take away the victim’s financial freedom. An economically abusive partner may demand access to and complete control over bank accounts and other resources, make it difficult for the victim to access their funds, or prevent the victim from gaining training or compensation at school or work.

Psychological abuse occurs when the abusive person uses fear and intimidation to control their victim. It can take the form of threats, destruction of property, self-harm, and isolation. The abusive person may threaten to harm themselves, the victim, or the victim’s family, friends, or pets; keep the victim away from loved ones, and prevent the victim from going to school or work.

Even if the abusive person never makes their words into actions, threats are a serious form of psychological abuse and domestic violence, especially when the abusive person threatens to hit, injure, or use a weapon against the victim or their loved ones. Sometimes, abusive people follow their victims around and show up uninvited at the victim’s home or workplace. This is known as stalking. Cyberstalking is similar but occurs online and often involves active engagement and online harassment. An example of cyberstalking may be someone leaving sexually explicit comments on every photo you post online.

Different forms of domestic violence may be easier to detect than others, but all forms of abuse are unacceptable. Often, multiple forms of abuse occur simultaneously, and emotionally abusive behaviors are present for some time before the abuse becomes physical. Abusive people may target just one person or terrorize an entire household.

If someone harms you or your children using any of the methods we mentioned above, do not hesitate to seek assistance. Whether you want to leave the relationship or not, you will need help to stop harmful patterns of behavior within your relationship. If you are afraid to leave, you can request an order of protection while you figure out the next steps.

How to Make a Safety Plan

There are many resources for victims of domestic violence, and you are not alone. If you live with an abusive person, you should have a plan that allows you to leave the house safely and avoid violence if possible. Identify safe areas of the home, exit routes, plausible reasons for leaving the house, and people you can turn to for help if an abusive situation arises.

Keep your phone accessible and do not hesitate to call 911 if you need emergency assistance. Never delay seeing a doctor getting medical treatment if you need it.

If you need a safe place to go, people to talk to, or help accessing resources, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.7233.

When you are safe, you can take the next steps by contacting an attorney in your area. Levi Divorce & Family Law Attorneys can help you get a protective injunction, seek a divorce, and/or gain full custody of your children.

No one should have to suffer abuse, and we are here to help you move forward from domestic violence, legally. All you need to do is call us at (718) 215-0121 or contact us online for a free consultation with a knowledgeable, compassionate attorney.

We are available 24/7 to take your call.

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