Partner & Spousal Abuse
Abuse comes in many different forms.
What is Domestic Violence?
Under the provisions of Section 741.28 of the Florida Statutes, 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. A family or household members are spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married. With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit.
What is Dating Violence?
Under the provisios of Section 784.046 of the Florida Statutes, dating violence is violence between individuals who have or have had a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on the consideration of the following factors:
- A dating relationship must have existed within the past 6 months;
- The nature of the relationship must have been characterized by the expectation of affection or sexual involvement between the parties; and
- The frequency and type of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship must have included that the persons have been involved over time and on a continuous basis during the course of the relationship.
Relationship Violence may include:
- Physical Abuse—Pushing, slapping, kicking, punching, choking, and beating
- Emotional/Verbal Abuse—Verbal intimidation, credible threats, following and stalking, acting out in anger
- Sexual Abuse or Battery—Any unwanted touching or forcing of someone to engage in a sexual act against his or her will
If YOU are being abused by a spouse or partner:
- Get to a safe place.
- Contact the UFPD Office of Victim Services at (352) 392-5648 or (352) 392-1111. A victim advocate can assist you with medical, legal and counseling services.
- If you are hurt call 911 or a friend, and get to a hospital as soon as possible.
- Report the incident to law enforcement. You can contact UFPD at (352) 392-1111.
- Plan safe strategies for leaving an abusive relationship, and pack an escape bag. A victim advocate can help you to do this.
If SOMEONE YOU KNOW is being abused by a spouse or partner:
- Don’t be afraid to offer help.
- Suggest that the victim speaks with a victim advocate, and make the call for them if necessary. Call the UFPD Office of Victim Services at (352) 392-5648 or (352) 392-1111.
- Approach the victim in an understanding, non-blaming way.
- Acknowledge that it is scary and difficult to talk about domestic violence.
- Share information about local resources. All of this information may be obtained from a victim advocate.
- Support the victim as a friend.
- Ask if they have suffered any physical harm. Go with them to the hospital to check for injuries.
- Help the victim report the assault to the police, and inform the victim about legal protection. A victim advocate can help you do this.
- Help the victim plan safe strategies for leaving an abusive relationship.
How to obtain an Injunction for Protection:
- To apply for an Injunction for Protection (restraining order) you must go to the Civil Division of the Clerk of the Court office in any county in Florida (see phone numbers below). A victim advocate will assist you in filling out paperwork.
- First, a judge may issue a temporary order. Within two weeks a hearing for a permanent order is held. Both you (the petitioner) and the abuser (the respondent) will receive separate notices stating the time and location of the hearing. At the time of the hearing, you and the respondent will be present and be able to speak to the Judge.
- To get a permanent order, you must be present at the hearing – but you do not have to go alone. A victim advocate may be available to accompany you. You can call the UFPD Office of Victim Services to speak with a victim advocate about accompanying you to the hearing. Also, a friend or a relative may accompany you. You do not need to get an attorney to get an Injunction for Protection.
- In an emergency situation on a weekend, holiday, or after hours, a temporary Injunction may be obtained. Call your local law enforcement agency for information on how to get an emergency Injunction. A UFPD victim advocate can also be reached in an emergency situation on a weekend, holiday, or after hours by calling (352) 392-1111.
Violation of the Injunction for Protection:
- Keep in mind that your partner may choose to violate the Injunction. Be sure to keep a copy of the Injunction with you at all times. If your partner approaches you and you feel that you are in danger, call 911 or your local law enforcement immediately. If you choose not to call law enforcement, you can file a violation report with the Clerk of Court.
- A violation of the Injunction is a criminal offense. However, you should not let that knowledge give you a false sense of security. If you do not feel safe, you might consider staying at a friend or relative’s home for a while. You can also contact the Domestic Violence shelter in your area for assistance. See “needs help finding a domestic shelter.”
Alachua County Domestic Relations Resources
Alachua County Clerk of Court:
Peaceful Paths Domestic Violence Network:
Three Rivers Legal