Domestic Violence Awareness Month
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. A nationwide spotlight has been shown on an often unspoken dark topic in our society. A multi-agency manhunt for a boyfriend turned suspected murderer has everyone talking about "the signs". There's a reason law enforcement often focuses on the spouse or significant other when someone goes missing or is found deceased. Homicides are more likely to be committed by an intimate partner or family member rather than a random stranger.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence states that "nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men." Chances are domestic violence has affected someone you know. Perhaps you've been a victim of domestic violence yourself. Either way, being informed about what domestic violence actually looks like and ways to reduce your chances of falling victim to it are imperative to protecting yourself and/or finding safety when you need it most.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is violent or aggressive behavior within the home, typically involving the abuse of a spouse or intimate partner, but it can be any other person living under the same roof. Domestic violence under Florida law includes:
other crimes that result in physical injury or death to someone in the same household
Signs Of Domestic Violence
Legal terms don't always translate well into "real life" scenarios. For example, false imprisonment doesn't always equate to someone being held captive in a basement. False imprisonment can be something as "simple" as blocking an exist of escape to confine the victim to a certain space in the home. Domestic violence isn't simple at all, so knowing the signs and red flags to watch out for can help you to identify domestic violence and hopefully avoid if at all possible.
isolating victim from family and/or friends
putting the victim down or shaming them "you can't do anything right!"
controlling access to money or taking victim's money
punching holes in door/walls
intimidating the victim with threats of violence or weapons
controlling the victim's free movement (visiting friends, going to work, etc)
dictating how the victim looks (clothes, makeup, hair, etc)
jealous behavior or accusing the victim of cheating
tracking victims communications (emails, texts, social media)
pressuring the victim to have sex or do sexual things they don't feel comfortable with
harassing the victim at their job, school, etc.
This list isn't all inclusive, but can give you insight into the different types of behaviors that indicate domestic violence in a relationship, or red flags to watch out for in your own relationships. The truth is, domestic violence doesn't always start out with aggravated circumstances. Most of the time the perpetrator chips away at the victim little by little. Bringing awareness of what domestic violence is helps potential victims spot troubling behavior before things have a chance of going too far.
What To Do If You're A Victim Of Domestic Violence
If you or someone you know are the victim of domestic violence the most important thing to understand is that help is available. There are people who are professionally trained in assisting the victims of domestic violence in escaping their situations. Leaving a volatile situation is frightening and can be extremely dangerous. Have a plan. If you're local to the Tallahassee area we've compiled some helpful resources:
The Florida Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24 hours a day to respond to you and will provide immediate assistance and local referrals.
Call or chat: 1-800-500-1119 1-800-621-4202 (TDD) Florida Relay 711
Franklin County 850-653-3313 (In Apalachicola) 24 Hour Hotline: 850-681-2111
850-627-9377 (In Quincy) 24 Hour Hotline: 850-681-2111
850-342-3518 24 Hour Hotline: 850-681-2111
Leon County 850-922-6062 (Administrative Office) 24 Hour Hotline: 850-681-2111
850-627-9377 (For Appointment in Bristol) 24 Hour Hotline: 850-681-2111
850-973-4144 (In Madison) 24 Hour Hotline: 850-584-8808
850-584-8808 (In Perry) 24 Hour Hotline: 850-584-8808
850-926-9005 (In Crawfordville) 24 Hour Hotline: 850-681-2111