“The guarantee of safety in a battering relationship…must be based upon the self-protective capability of the victim. Until the victim has developed a detailed and realistic contingency plan and has demonstrated [their] ability to carry it out, [they remain] in danger of repeated abuse.”
— Judith Lewis Herman
Victims of domestic violence are afforded several avenues of protection under state law. The victim is known as the petitioner whereas the other party is the respondent. Statutory requirements dictate the strength of any claim made under any of the available DV statues. Parents/guardians can also bring claims of domestic violence on behalf of their children/minors. In Florida, there are five types of injunctions that can be brought: (1) domestic violence; (2) repeat violence; (3) dating violence; (4) sexual violence; and (5) stalking. It is crucial to understand the discrepancies between the several domestic violence statutes and alternate means of protection like stay away orders.
I. Temporary Injunctions/Restraining Orders
A temporary injunction, sometimes referred to as a restraining order, can have a significant effect on any divorce or paternity related matter. Allegations of domestic violence can factor into decisions regarding custody, timesharing, child support, spousal support, and division of assets for purposes of equitable distribution. A temporary injunction, if entered, can substantially limit or in some cases, completely restrict, any and all communication between a parent and a child. A temporary injunction/restraining order will be entered if the Judge determines that the facts contained within your petition establish that you have reasonable cause to believe you are in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence. A temporary injunction stays in place until a hearing with both parties can be held. A temporary injunction may also require the respondent to surrender guns and ammunition. A temporary injunction may also include determinations regarding temporary timesharing, temporary child support, and temporary spousal support.
II. Permanent Injunctions
A permanent injunction may be issued after proper notice and hearing with both parties. A permanent injunction requires the respondent to surrender guns and ammunition. It is important to note that the term “permanent” is somewhat misleading because either party may move to modify said injunction at any point.
III. Domestic Violence
In Florida, the Petitioner and Respondent must be family or household members who are or were living together in order to have standing to bring a domestic violence case. It is important to note, however, that parents of a child in common do not need to fulfil the requirement of having lived together. A domestic violence victim must prove physical abuse, emotional/verbal abuse, or sexual abuse/battery.
IV. Repeat Violence
Florida statutes define repeat violence as two incidents of violence or stalking with one of those incidents occurring within the 6 months prior to filing a Petition for Injunction for Protection Against Repeat Violence.
V. Dating Violence
Dating violence in Florida involves individuals who have or have had a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. Said relationship must have been within the last 6 months in order to meet the statutory requirements. The court relies on the facts of each case in determining whether a relationship existed under the statute.
VI. Sexual Violence
Sexual violence in Florida is defined as a single incident of: (1) sexual battery; (2) a lewd or lascivious act committed upon or in the presence of a person younger than 16 years of age; (3) luring or enticing a child as described by the statutes; (4) sexual performance of a child as described by the statutes; or (5) any other forcible felony wherein a sexual act is committed or attempted. The Petitioner must also have reported the sexual violence to law enforcement and must be cooperating in the criminal proceeding, if one exists.
Stalking is the repeated following, harassment, or cyber-stalking of one person by another. This also includes cyber-stalking. Cyber-stalking is defined as a course of conduct to communicate, or to cause to be communicated, words, images, or language by or through the use of electronic mail or electronic communication, directed at a specific person, causing substantial emotional distress to that person and serving no legitimate purpose.