Domestic violence is often viewed as the physical assault of one partner by another. However, it’s scope is actually much larger. Florida law stipulates that “‘domestic violence’ means any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.” Domestic violence can also include other means of control such as psychological or financial abuse.
For many, leaving a situation that involves domestic violence is difficult. Fear certainly plays a factor in this. In addition, some partners or spouses are not even aware that their situation qualifies as domestic violence. They may believe their situation to be normal or believe that their partner or spouse will get better and stop the abuse. Many victims of domestic violence rationalize their abuse or begin to believe their abuser and think that they deserve their abuse. This makes leaving a dangerous situation more difficult.
To safely escape domestic violence, victims need support from family members and their community. The following post highlights the signs of domestic violence, what to do if you are in a domestic violence situation, and where to get help in the Tampa area. If you are in a domestic violence situation, know that you are not alone. There are resources available to help you and people who care about you.
Signs of Domestic Violence
If you are concerned that what is occurring in your home may constitute domestic violence, look for these signs. Similarly, if you believe someone you love is in an abusive relationship, be on the lookout for the following signs.
- Does your partner or spouse frequently insult you?
- Does your partner or spouse tell you that you aren’t good enough or that you aren’t lovable?
- Is your partner or spouse excessively jealous?
- Is your partner or spouse extremely possessiveness?
- Does your partner or spouse suffer from frequent irrational bouts of anger?
- Isolation; doesn’t allow you to see friends and family when you want
- Inability to share your own feelings or opinions
- Controls the finances
- Destroys your property
- Threats to harm, hurt, or humiliate you or loved ones
- Do you feel unsafe?
- Do you worry for your safety or the safety of your children?
Signs that a situation is escalating and that you may be in more trouble include:
- Increased frequency of abuse.
- Increase in roughness of abuse.
- Abusive or controlling behavior has become more obvious to friends and family.
- Increase or onset of electronic monitoring or stalking.
- Partner brings home or keeps a firearm.
- Partner implicitly threatens to harm or kill you.
- Partner places his hands around your neck and squeezes.
If you are the victim of domestic violence, you need to safely remove yourself (and your children, if you have any) from your home. Thankfully, you don’t have to do it alone. In the next section, there are many resources that can help you establish yourself outside of your relationship. To begin, however, you must decide to leave. Once you have committed to leaving a negative situation, you can begin to plan.
If you’d like to confidentially discuss your situation with someone, you can always call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (1-800-787-3224 TTY) or chat with someone online via their website. Tambien puedes ver el website en español.
Making the decision to leave can be very hard, especially when, despite the abuse, you still love your spouse or partner. It’s important to remember, however, that your life matters and that you do not deserve the abuse. You are a person worthy of love and respect. Despite promises that he or she will change, you remain in danger. The Hotline spells out some common obstacles to leaving.
When you’re ready to plan, check Path to Safety on the Hotline’s website to learn more about how to safely leave an abusive relationship. In addition, you should also consult with a Tampa domestic violence lawyer to prepare a restraining order and discuss your legal options.
If you believe a loved one is the victim of domestic violence, the most important thing you can do is to be supportive. If they are ready to leave their relationship, you can assist in the creation of a safety plan and continue to serve as part of their support network. Your loved one may be resistant to seeking help. Providing them with a phone number to call so they can discuss their situation with a trained professional can help them view their own situation differently and encourage them to seek help. To get started, visit The National Domestic Violence Hotline’s webpage for friends and family.
Tampa Domestic Violence Resources
First, if you feel you are in imminent danger, leave your home immediately or call 911. If you are in the planning process or seeking more information, check out the following local resources.
The Spring Shelter
If you are in need of a safe haven, The Spring can provide you support. You can call their 24-hour crisis hotline at 813-247-7233.
The Spring provides a crisis hotline, an emergency shelter for families in danger, outreach services, and other services to help victims of domestic violence leave a bad situation and start over.
The Spring has been offering support to the Tampa area for over 40 years. Their three-step mission—prevent, protect, promote change—has proven invaluable in the lives of many Tampanians. By providing educational resources to the community and supporting those in needs, The Spring has saved lives and renewed hope for many.
Crisis Center of Tampa Bay
Victims of abuse can call 2-1-1 to speak to someone about domestic violence or other issues. The Crisis Center hotline is available 24-7 all year long. In addition to phone assistance, the group provides trauma counseling at the Corbett Trauma Center.
The Florida Department of Children and Families maintains an abuse hotline for concerned individuals to report suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of children or vulnerable adults. They can be reached at 1-800-962-2873 or a report can be made via their website.
Centre for Women
The Centre for Women offers many services that can benefit domestic violence victims. One reason many victims stay in a relationship is that they don’t feel they have any options. For example, they may be out of work and rely on their spouse financially. The Centre for Women offers employment services to help women enter or re-enter the job pool as well as counseling programs.
Bay Area Legal Services
Bay Area Legal Services offers basic legal services for domestic violence victims with limited income.
Hillsborough County Injunctions for Protection
To learn more about an injunction for protection (restraining order), visit the Hillsborough County Clerk of Court website. There you’ll find frequently asked questions about an Injunction for Protection and a brochure that provides instructions for completing a petition. Alternatively, you can speak with a Tampa divorce lawyer who has significant family law experience.
Consulting with a Tampa Divorce Attorney
A Tampa divorce attorney with training in domestic violence issues can help you quickly attain a restraining order to help protect you and your children. In addition, because domestic violence can impact divorce proceedings, a Tampa divorce attorney can help you gather the evidence of abuse that you need to illustrate to the court that your safety, and that of your children, is in peril.
If you are the victim of domestic violence, you need a compassionate divorce lawyer who is aware of the resources available to you in the Tampa area. Let Mary Quinn, Esq. help you through the process of leaving a volatile relationship and striking out on your own.
Contact us today to learn more about our legal options and get the advice you need during a free consultation.