Types of Abuse

Florida Domestic Violence Arrest Data for 2013
Murder 170
Manslaughter 17
Forcible Rape 1588
Forcible Sodomy data not collected
Forcible Fondling 744
Aggravated Assault 17,043
Aggravated Stalking 201
Simple Assault 85,606
Threat/Intimidation 2161
Stalking 500

Domestic violence covers a wide range of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse that may range from simple name-calling to murder. However, legal definitions of domestic/intimate partner violence are often restrictive, referring to acts of physical or sexual violence, including rape, stalking, harassment and certain types of psychological abuse and crimes where there are civil and criminal remedies. Laws vary somewhat from state to state, for example, non-physical types of abuse (dominance, name-calling, emotional blackmail, etc.) may not be classified as domestic/intimate partner violence in some jurisdictions. This is true, even though this abuse can often be devastating to the victims and instill great fear and anxiety.

There are essentially 4 types of abuse:

Physical abuse

Domestic violence assaults often lead to specific types of injuries, and these should serve as signals to health providers. The injuries may be inconsistent with the explanation given (for example, walking into a door and getting a black eye). Victims may present with injuries in various stages of healing and signs of both recent and old injuries. Battery type injuries most-commonly seen in domestic violence include:

Other types of injury patterns associated with domestic violence include:

Injuries which rarely occur as the result of accident:

Defensive injuries occur to parts of the body that the victim uses to fend off an attack:

In the United States, researchers estimate that 40% to 70% of female murder victims were killed by their husbands or boyfriends, frequently in the context of an ongoing abusive relationship.


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There are patterns of abuse that suggest domestic/intimate partner violence.
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Sexual abuse

Sexual assault is a very common element of domestic/intimate partner violence. The victim may be raped or forced to participate in sexual activities against the victim's wishes. The victim may be bitten or burned on the breasts or genital areas. According to FBI reports of 2002, 10% of sexual offenses against women were committed by intimate partners, but at least 25% of women will experience a sexual assault by an intimate partner at some point in their lives.

Many authorities believe that sexual assault as part of domestic/intimate partner violence occurs with much higher frequency than available statistics suggest. Hispanic women are more likely than non-Hispanic women to report rape as part of domestic/intimate partner violence.

For more information on Florida's Sexual Violence Prevention Program, please click here.

Harassment and stalking

"Criminal harassment" is the legal term for stalking, which is a repeated pattern of actions that cause harassment or repeated annoyance to the victim. Typically, stalking occurs when the perpetrator repeatedly calls the victim by phone, repeatedly writes, leaves note or gifts, and repeatedly visits even though told not to do so. The stalker may repeatedly pass by the residence or workplace of the victim. Stalking behavior can be particularly dangerous because it most often occurs when the victim has separated from the perpetrator following a romantic relationship. These unwanted calls and visits may include threats. In order to classify as assault under the domestic violence laws of Florida, the threats must be repeated and form a pattern of harassment. One or two threatening call would not be enough to constitute a charge of stalking or assault. Because victims are often at increased risk of injury or homicide after they leave the perpetrators, stalking is a cause for real concern. The victim of a stalker can file for an injunction of protection (restraining order) under Florida law.


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Two threatening calls would constitute stalking under Florida law.
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Non-physical abuse

Non-physical abuse centers around the perpetrator's need to maintain power and control, and to keep the victim frightened and dependent. It includes the following actions:


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Non-physical abuse centers around issues of power and control.
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