Domestic violence and abuse take many forms. Indeed, there are many cases where a person is the victim of serious abuse but lacks awareness of their own situation. In these situations, victims may dismiss abusive conduct as normal behavior by a partner or even blame themselves for somehow triggering the abuse.
It is critical to understand the various forms that domestic abuse may take. Even if the abuse does not rise to the level of physical violence, it is still serious. And if you know someone who is suffering from any of the kinds of abuse described below, you should offer assistance.
Obviously, physical abuse is the most well-known form of domestic violence. Any use of physical force against a family or household member is a criminal offense. There is no “right” to assault someone just because he or she is your partner, child, or relative. Any level of physical force–such as hitting, kicking, or choking–is abuse. And even when physical abuse does not result in injuries that require medical treatment, it can still be reported and prosecuted as domestic violence under Florida law.
Emotional abuse broadly encompasses behaviors designed to destroy the victim’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth. In many cases emotional abuse does not involve any physical contact between the abuser and the victim. It often takes verbal form, e.g., a partner constantly criticizing you, calling you names, yelling at you in front of other people, and so forth. While such verbal abuse is not in and of itself illegal, if it is part of a pattern of abuse designed to coerce the victim into acting against their will, it may be chargeable as domestic violence.
To that point, emotional abuse is often tied up with financial abuse–the deliberate theft or withholding of resources from a victim in order to further destroy their independence and maintain dependence on the abuser. For example, an abuser may forbid their spouse from working or attending college. The abuser may also control all of the couple’s checking accounts, rendering it impossible for the victim to access any money on their own.
While emotional abuse targets the victim’s self-esteem, psychological abuse is designed to provoke fear in the victim. Psychological abuse often takes the form of stalking, which is a crime in Florida. Specifically, Section 784.048 of the Florida Statutes defines stalking as “willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly” harassing another person. This includes “cyberstalking,” i.e. using email or social media to intimidate the victim. If stalking involves making a “credible threat” to the victim’s safety, the abuser may be charged with a felony.
Taking Domestic Violence in Orlando Seriously
This is just a brief overview of the types of domestic abuse and violence we see every day here in Florida. If you are a victim–or think you may be a victim–you should seek immediate assistance by contacting the Florida Domestic Violence Hotline. And if you have been charged with a crime arising from allegations of abuse and need to speak with a qualified Orlando domestic violence defense lawyer, contact Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, at (407) 377-0150 today.