Domestic Abuse and the Law

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Domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence, affects people of all races, genders, religions, sexual preferences, and income levels. Once reported, domestic violence falls under the clutches of bureaucracy and would now be handled under state law. 

With so many rules, regulations, and procedures, victims of domestic violence may not understand the process or what it may entail, so I have taken some time to research and discuss further domestic abuse and its overall ties with the law. Read below to learn more.

How does the law view domestic abuse?

Domestic violence in Florida is defined as assault or battery, aggravated assault or battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death, committed by a family or household member against another family or household member.

“Family or household member” refers to any of the following persons:

  • current or former spouses
  • persons related by blood or marriage
  • persons currently or formerly residing together as if a family, or
  • parents who have a child in common, regardless of whether they were at any time married

With the exception of parents who have a child in common, the persons must currently or previously have resided together in the same single dwelling unit in order to be considered a family or household member under Florida law. (Fla. Stat. § 741.28).

Once someone is accused of domestic violence both parties should obey the orders of the Court, regardless of the allegations have been proven and in place or not. Violating such conditions can result in jail time. It is taken beyond seriously.

How are victims protected?

In its own way, the law does take into account the victim’s personal safety into account, giving an opportunity to the victim to pursue civil remedies. Some of which may be restraining orders, orders of protection, and child custody disputes. 

A federal domestic violence victim also has the following rights under 42 U.S.C. Section 10606(b):

1) The right to be treated with fairness and with respect for the victim’s dignity and privacy;

2) The right to be reasonable protected from the accused offender;

3) The right to be notified of court proceedings;

4) The right to be present at all public court proceedings related to the offense unless the court determines that testimony by the victim would be materially affected if the victim heard other testimony at the trial;

5) The right to confer with the attorney for the Government in the case;

6) The right to restitution;

7) The right to information about the conviction, sentencing, imprisonment, and release of the offender.

Where does it go wrong?

Unfortunately, even with all of these rules, regulations, and considerations in place, it may still not be all too favorable for victims. 

This is better seen when male detectives or police officers respond to the scene, which can cause the victim to not feel seen or heard themselves.  Additionally, some victims feel that their cases are being perceived as low priority, with their cases being handled not as seriously as others. There also may be a lack of understanding or psychological education behind the thoughts and feelings of a victim in order to better serve them. 

With all of this being said, it is crucial to positively reform the law and those enforcing them by hearing out victims and their experiences with the law. Through constructive criticism and implementing improvements, I believe that we can thoroughly elevate the law when it comes to domestic violence and better serving victims. 

If you are the victim of a domestic violence crime, it is normal to feel scared, helpless, and vulnerable. Remember, you are not alone. The following agencies exist to help:

National Assistance Domestic Violence Hotline

1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

1-303-839-1852

Sources: Florida Domestic Violence Laws

The United States Department of Justice

Surviving Domestic Abuse Formal and Informal Supports and Services by Dr. Michele Finneran

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