1What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors, including physical, sexual and psychological attacks, as well as economic coercion, that adults or adolescents use against their intimate partners.
2What are the key elements of domestic violence?
Conduct perpetrated by adults or adolescents against their intimate partners in current or former dating, married or cohabiting relationships of heterosexuals, gay men and lesbians.
A pattern of behaviors including a variety of tactics – some physically injurious and some not – carried out in multiple, sometimes daily episodes.
A combination of physical attacks, terrorist attacks and controlling tactics used by perpetrators that result in fear as well as physical and psychological harm to victims and their children.
A pattern of purposeful behavior, directed at achieving compliance from or control over the victim.
3What is the difference between fighting and battering?
Arguments, disagreements and differences of opinion are parts of normal relationships. What distinguishes an abusive relationship is an ongoing pattern of disproportionate control and coercion. The “fight” is not between people of equal power, but occurs within a relationship in which there is an imbalance of power and the use of abusive control tactics by one party.
4Why does domestic violence happen?
Contrary to popular belief, domestic violence is not caused by stress, mental illness, alcohol or drugs. The only true cause of domestic violence is the abuser’s choice to act violently.
5Why does someone stay in an abusive relationship?
There are many reasons a person may not be ready or able to leave. Some of these reasons include:
◊ fear of physical danger
◊ financial barriers
◊ belief that things will get better if they stick with the relationship
◊ fear of the unknown/failure
◊ societal/religious messages to keep the family intact
◊ they love the person and hope they’ll change
We should also ask why an abuser would stay in a relationship with someone they don’t respect or value enough to keep them from harm.
6What are signs that I may be in an abusive relationship?
Does your partner . . .
◊ Hit, punch, slap, choke, or shove you?
◊ Destroy personal property, damage furniture
◊ Prevent you from seeing friends or family?
◊ Control all finances and/or force you to account
for what you spend?
◊ Belittle you in public or private?
◊ Show extreme jealousy of others or make
◊ Force you to have sex against your will?
These are all examples of abusive behavior.
7Does violence occur in same-sex relationships?
Violence does occur in same-sex relationships. In fact, statistics show that same-sex relationship violence is as common as heterosexual relationship violence. The elements of abusive relationships are similar for heterosexual and homosexual couples, although same-sex victims may face additional barriers to ending the relationship.
8Are heterosexual men ever the victims of domestic abuse?
The topic of battered men is very emotionally charged. For women’s groups and feminists who have fought so hard for the legal and popular recognition that men’s violence against women is wrong, it may seem like a betrayal to even acknowledge that men can be victims. However, as our understanding of domestic violence increases, we must accept that men can be and are abused by their wives and girl friends. Unfortunately, there are no reliable statistics on men who are abused by their female partners. Many domestic violence programs quote statistics that indicate that 95% of domestic violence is perpetrated by men against women.
9I’m worried about someone I know – what can I do?
Most likely you know someone who is being abusive or is being abused, or both. It can be frustrating when you know someone is being hurt and they have not ended the relationship. You can provide support and information about community resources to them – even just making this website available to them is a great start. Let them know that the abuse is not their fault and that no one deserves to be abused. Do not put yourself at risk by trying to intervene directly.
10Does witnessing domestic violence affect our children?
Often children witnessing abuse blame themselves for problems occurring in their family. Many children are seriously injured or killed each year in an attempt to intervene to protect a parent. By growing up in an abusive environment, a child learns that violence is an effective tool and an acceptable way to interact with others.
11What are the police required to do?
When police arrive at the scene of a domestic incident, officers are mandated to complete a police report and to distribute a victim’s rights notice – even if there is no arrest made. According to Florida State law, an officer must make an arrest when s/he has “probable cause” to believe certain offenses that rise to the level of a felony or misdemeanor have occurred between family members. Arrests provide immediate safety for the victim and other members of the household, and officers can direct victims to other resources.