Office of The State Attorney, Fifth Judicial Circuit, Florida
Serving the Citizens of Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion, and Sumter Counties
Office of The State Attorney, Fifth Judicial Circuit, Florida
Serving the Citizens of Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion, and Sumter Counties

Victim Services

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence cases are some of the most important cases handled by the Office of the State Attorney. This office has prosecutors and specialists who are trained specifically in the area of ​​domestic violence. It is our policy to aggressively prosecute these cases to ensure the families we serve are safe and that justice is served.

What is Domestic Violence?

“Domestic violence” is defined in Florida Statute 741.28 as 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.

“Family or household member” means 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.

Warning Signs & Traits

Anyone can be an abuser. They come from all groups, all cultures, all religions, all economic levels, and all backgrounds. They can be your neighbor, your pastor, your friend, your child’s teacher, a relative, a coworker – anyone. It is important to note that the majority of abusers are only violent with their current or past intimate partners.

There are things that your partner may do that are considered “red flags.” They can help you decide if you are in a potentially dangerous relationship.

  • Does your partner tease you in hurtful ways or call you names in public or in private?
  • Does your partner act jealous in front of your friends, family, or co-workers?
  • Does your partner get angry about your clothes or how you wear your hair?
  • Does your partner insist on knowing who you talk to on the phone, through social media, mail or go through your accounts or other personal things?
  • Does your partner check up on you by calling, driving by, or getting someone else to check?
  • Does your partner make important family decisions without you because they are the “head of the house”?
  • Does your partner keep money from you, keep you in debt, or have “money secrets”?
  • Has your partner kept you from getting a job or caused you to lose your job?
  • Have you lost friends, or do you no longer see some of your family because of your partner?
  • Does your partner accept no blame for their failures at work or with money?
  • Does your partner get mad so easily that you feel like you are “walking on eggshells”?
  • Does your partner blame you for their problems, their moods, or their abusive behavior?
  • Does your partner accuse you of seeing someone else?
  • Does your partner drink often?
  • Does your partner use illegal drugs or abuse prescription drugs often?
  • Does your partner insist that you drink or do drugs with them?
  • Is your partner like a “Jekyll and Hyde”; acting one way in front of people and another way when you are alone?
  • Does your partner hit walls, drive dangerously, or do other things to scare you?
  • Does your partner threaten to hurt you, your children, your pets, or other family members?
  • Does your partner have access to firearms or other weapons?
  • Does your partner force you to have sex in ways you do not want to or have makeup sex after a fight, or they have hurt you?
  • Has your partner ever violated an injunction for protection?
  • Does your partner have a history of violence that has come worse over time?
  • Has your partner threatened to kill you or commit suicide if you ever leave them?

The Cycle & Why Victims Stay

The power and control wheel and the post-separation power and control wheel are helpful tools in understanding the overall pattern of abusive and violent behaviors used by abusers to establish and maintain control over their partners both within and following a relationship.

A victim’s reasons for staying with their abusers are extremely complex. In most cases, it is based on the reality that their abuser will follow through with the threats they have made against them, their children, family members or pets.  The threats can vary from threats of physical violence, loss of custody of children and financial hardships.  The victim knows their abuser and fully knows the extent to which the abuser will go to maintain control over them. The victim literally may not be able to safely escape or protect those they love. Here is a list of reasons why a victim might stay in an abusive relationship:

  • The fear that the abuser will become more violent if they attempt to leave.
  • The lack of knowledge of access to safety and resources.
  • The lack of family and or friends support.
  • The lack of a safe place to go and the fear of being homeless.
  • The fear of how they will support the family alone.
  • The lack of being able to access funds in order to leave.
  • The fear of losing custody of children.
  • Religious or cultural beliefs and practices may keep a victim from leaving
  • The rationalization of the victim feeling the abuser it is not bad all the time.  There are some good times also.

Effects On Children

Domestic violence is a learned behavior. As children grow up and learn about right and wrong, they learn the most from the people who are closest to them, usually their parents. Children need to understand that violent behavior is NOT okay, and that it is NOT a way to deal with frustration and anger.  Domestic violence can have a mental, physical and social effect on children exposed.  They can show signs of anger, depression, guilt, low self-esteem, overreact to little things, and will do negative things for attention.  They tend to have the “don’t care” attitude and get in trouble at school. They often have a hard time making and keeping friends.  They show signs of headaches, stomachaches, eating disorders, difficulty sleeping, drug and alcohol abuse, and act out violently towards classmates and siblings.   

If you have concerns about the safety of a child please call the Child Abuse Registry hotline at 1-800-962-2873 or make a report online at the Department of Children and Families.

Safety Planning

Abusers are not predictable, and every case of domestic violence is different. Planning may help keep you and your children safe.  Contact your local domestic violence center or call 1-800-500-1119 to speak to an advocate to make your personal safety plan.  Here are some things that you can consider:

  • Teach your children not to get in the middle of a fight and to run for help.
  • Teach your children how to dial 911 and give your address and phone number to police.
  • Know where you can go for help.
  • Make sure friends and family members know what is happening and have their contact numbers saved.
  • Have a cell phone or electronic device that can contact 911.
  • Make a Getaway bag in case you need to leave quickly.  Things to put in your getaway bag include: a 911 device, driver’s license or any form of identification, birth certificates/social security cards, medications/copies of prescriptions, a picture of the abuser and your children, cash, debit/credit card(s), an extra set of house keys and car keys, divorce/custody/injunction paperwork.
  • Get an injunction for protection, and always keep it with you.
  • Keep record of any contact (i.e. texts, calls, emails, social media messages etc.) and promptly report violations to law enforcement.
  • Notify the children’s school, daycare, or babysitter of the situation and give them copies of any court orders related to custody.
  • Do not meet or contact the abuser alone under any circumstances.
  • Have another person pick up and deliver children for visitation.
  • If you must meet the abuser, choose a safe, public location and take another person with you.
  • Change your routine and the routes you travel.
  • Do not go to places that you and the abuser frequented together or places they are known to spend time.

The information on this page was gathered from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.