Domestic abuse in Florida is a direct violation of specially-written laws designed to protect victims. In Florida, domestic abuse, or, more specifically, “domestic violence,” includes any number of physical crimes, such as assault, battery, sexual assault, and kidnapping, committed by a family or household member.
These laws, in order to properly provide protection for all victims of domestic abuse, are complex and can be difficult to understand. If you even suspect that you or a loved one might be suffering from domestic abuse, remember: no person has to live in fear or pain caused by domestic abuse. Contact our Sarasota domestic battery lawyers for help. We will protect your confidentiality and get you the help you need.
Why Don’t More People Get Help for Domestic Abuse?
Domestic abuse is notoriously under-reported for several reasons. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, domestic abuse goes under-reported primarily for the following reasons:
- Fear. Victims are afraid of the consequences of leaving an abusive relationship and have likely been threatened numerous times.
- Love. Many victims still love their abusive partner and may have children with them, and they don’t want to break up their family. Abusive people are often charismatic and charming, especially at the beginning of a relationship. Victims often hope that their partner will go back to being that charming person. They may want the violence to stop, but the relationship to continue.
- Believing Abuse is Normal. Many victims, particularly people who grew up in an abusive household, believe their situation is normal.
- Fear of Being Outed. Victims in an LGBTQ relationship who have not yet come out fear that their partner may threaten to reveal this secret.
- Embarrassment and Shame. Many victims fear the stigma of being abused and are afraid that their friends and family will judge them.
- Low Self-Esteem. When an abusive partner constantly degrades someone and blames them for the abuse, it can be easy for the victim to believe those statements and believe it’s their own fault.
- Lack of Money/Resources. Using financial threats and punishments is common in abusive relationships, as victims may depend financially on their abusive partner. Without access to money and resources, and often lacking even a safe place to go to, it may seem impossible for them to leave the abusive relationship. This feeling of helplessness is especially prevalent if the person lives with their abusive partner.
- Cultural/Religious Reasons. Tradition and specific gender roles imposed by a victim’s culture or religion may influence them to stay rather than end the relationship for fear of bringing shame upon their family.
- Language Barriers/Immigration Status. Undocumented victims may fear that reporting the abuse will affect their immigration status. Also, if their first language is a language other than English, it can be difficult to express the details of their situation to others.
- Disability. When someone is physically dependent on their abusive partner, they may be particularly vulnerable and dependent on their abusive relationship.
How to Tell When Someone Is in an Abusive Relationship
Quite often, for the reasons stated above, victims in an abusive domestic relationship try to hide the problem. Sometimes, it’s up to a loved one or even a good friend to try to get help for the victim. There are various signs that a loved one or friend may be in an abusive relationship, including:
- Physical Injuries. Bruises, scratches, black eyes, broken noses, etc., especially when repeated, are indications of physical abuse. Abusers are often smart enough to inflict these injured in inconspicuous areas; for example, on limbs covered by clothing rather than the victim’s face.
- Puffy or Red Eyes. Victims may be sleep-deprived from the fighting and worrying, and cry much too often. Their eyes well up with tears when you try to reach out to them and ask them how they’re doing.
- Changes in Clothing Style. Women who previously wore shorts, skirts, and tank tops might begin wearing long-sleeved shirts, scarves, and long pants to hide her injuries.
- Changes in Social Habits. Victims may stop making lighthearted small talk in ways they used to. They may avoid people and conversations by retreating to someplace private. No more “girl’s night out.” Victims may cease attending any function without their partners.
- Noticeable and/or Sudden Loss of Confidence. Victims no longer laugh and talk at social functions, or even contribute to conversations. They are generally less talkative.
- Other Personality Changes. Victims often appear to have lost that sparkling personality, constantly checking for their partners’ approval in everything. They tend to blend in more rather than stand out the way they used to.
- Changes in Grooming Habits. Victims often stop wearing makeup, getting manicures, styling their hair, or tanning, and may suddenly start losing weight, generally as a symptom of low self-esteem.
- Lack of Communication. Victims often start ignoring emails, texts, and phone calls. Even rare communications are short and superficial. Discussions of relationship issues are shut down hard and fast.
- Loss of Relationships. Victims often ignore even their closest friends, and relationships with family members are extremely limited. This is part of the victim’s journey into isolation.
- Sudden or Gradual Disinterest. Victims often stop going to activities like Movie Night, Card Game Night, and even church. They will often cease physical activities altogether, and generally just stay home.
- Lying. Victims often lie, and usually quite badly. They tend to lie about reasons for missing class or work, so repeatedly and unconvincingly that the lies become unspoken understandings between them and their friends, families, co-workers or classmates. Of course, they often repeat the biggest lie of them all: They’re happy.
Contact Sarasota Domestic Battery Lawyers at the Fowler Law Group
Domestic abuse is physically and emotionally devastating. If you see the symptoms in a friend or loved one, don’t give up on them. Convince them to get help at all costs, because the fact is, domestic abuse often ends in crippling injury or death.
The Sarasota domestic battery lawyers at The Fowler Law Group understand what you’re going through as a victim of domestic abuse. They understand the law, must most importantly, they care, they can protect your anonymity, and help you and your affected loved ones be safe. If you need our help please contact us online.