About Spousal Abuse
Domestic violence can be classified as any physical and/or emotional abuse that occurs within the confines of a home. Even if the violence is not inherently dangerous to another's physical wellbeing, verbal threats and intimidation are still considered instances of abuse. This type of offense can take place between spouses, cohabitating couples, families, etc., and can include any of the following behavior:
- Physical assault and/or abuse
- Sexual abuse
- False Imprisonment
All of these actions can be prosecuted under the law as either a misdemeanor or a felony offense. Misdemeanor charges would include instances of less severe injury and/or emotional abuse, whereas felony charges would include instances of severe physical trauma. Both can carry some pretty severe penalties, however.
Domestic Violence Statistics
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), 25% of women across the nation will suffer domestic violence in the duration of their lives. Every year, about 1.3 million women are physically abused or assaulted by an intimate partner annually. Although men suffer from domestic violence, women account for 85% of domestic violence victims in the United States. Sadly, the majority of domestic abuse cases are never reported.
Most domestic violence abusers know their victims and statistically, women between the ages of 20 and 24 are at the highest risk of suffering domestic abuse form an intimate partner. Although women are usually victimized by domestic abuse, children suffer as well. Statistically, young boys who witness abuse are twice as likely to abuse an intimate partner when they are older. Additionally, individuals who commit domestic violence against a dating partner are likely to abuse their children as well.
Even still, many domestic abuse cases remain untreated and unreported. NCADV states that intimate partner violence (such as spousal abuse) is one of the most unreported crimes in the United States. Only a small percentage of rape, stalking and physical assault cases are actually reported to the police. Although each state has different laws pertaining to domestic violence, many of them require the victim and the perpetrator to be current spouse, former spouse, current roommates, or have a common child.
The Economic Impact
According to the NCADV, intimate partner violence costs the nation more than $5.8 billion every year. More than $4 billion of this cost goes directly to give abuse victims medical and mental treatment. In the United States, domestic violence victims lost approximately 8 million paid work days because of abuse. Statistically, this is the equivalent of losing 32,000 full time jobs or 5.6 million days of productivity at home. Every year, 16,800 homicides are committed in the U.S. Additionally; $2.2 million goes to treat injuries from abuse.
Penalties for Family Violence
Depending on the type of offense, different penalties may apply. For a misdemeanor charge, the guilty party could face up to one year in jail, anger management counseling, community service, fines, and an order to stay away from the victim. For a felony charge, penalties may include more severe jail time in a state prison, anger management counseling, community service, fines, and an order to stay away from the victim. Again, the consequences will vary greatly depending on the type of offense that has been committed.
Since Florida statute defines domestic violence as "any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offenses resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member," there are differences in how each separate offense can be prosecuted and/or punished. It is likely, however, that a conviction of any of these charges will warrant a period of time in jail.