If you are already hurt or being threatened by any family member including spouse, ex-spouse, parent, relative by blood or marriage, then you have the right to seek protection. Domestic violence can lead to physical and emotional trauma, or even death; you do not want to downplay it.Sometimes victims want to believe that their abuser will change with time. However, the abuser will probably not change.
Stopping the abuse through the legal system
Florida law provides legal means through which a victim of domestic violence can work with the court to stop the abuse. Whether you are already a victim or you have genuine reasons to believe that you are under threat of domestic violence, you have the right to report that to the police.
You can ask the court for an Injunction for Protection against Domestic Violence (IFP). The IFP forms are available on www.flcourts.org or by visiting the courthouse. While writing your petition, you should be as elaborate and as specific as possible in providing details. You need to include what you want the judge to do, like an order for a batterer’s intervention program, or granting you child custody. All of these requests should be in writing.
Your petition will be forwarded to the judge who may grant you a temporary IFP, as the case may be. This could last for 15 days, followed by a court hearing to determine if a permanent IFP order will be granted. Evidence and witnesses will be important to help you win your case. You should always keep the injunction handy if you are granted one.
If you are granted the IFP and your abuser refuses to obey the injunction Gather evidence of the violation, be it text messages, pictures, videos or audios; you can call 911 if you feel you are in any imminent danger. Additionally, it is in your best interest to see that the abuser is prosecuted for the crime through the Attorney’s Office.
You can also go to the court where you filed for the IFP and file further petition, based on the violation of the order. There will be a hearing, and after which the judge may jail the abuser for disobeying the court order, or give the abuser other suitable penalty.
In the case that you need immediate safety, you may need to plan emergency escape; seek shelter with neighbors or family and friends, keep extra clothing and important papers in safe places.
In case you need to move, you are able to seek relocation assistance, which is a program that provides financial assistance for victims of domestic violence seeking escape. This is not available to everyone, however. You must be in the Welfare Transition Program.
Consult a Lawyer/Victim Advocate
Cases of domestic violence can be quite harrowing and traumatic for the victims. If you cannot go through the court process by yourself, please consult a lawyer or victim advocate. You can also join domestic violence advocacy and protection groups within your area.