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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence in Florida is defined as assault or battery, aggravated assault or battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death, committed by a family or household member against another family or household member.

The majority of domestic violence incidents we see at O’Mara law Group involve persons in romantic relationships. There is one thing that all people should know doesn’t belong in a relationship, and that’s abuse. Abuse can be physical or emotional. Sometimes abuse is disguised as or confused with love. But it’s not. No one has the right to hurt you, control you, or make you feel afraid — even if they say they do it because they love you.

Domestic violence is a serious problem with long-lasting emotional and physical effects, and affects women from all walks of life, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, income, or education level. Nearly 1 in 4 women 18 or older in the United States have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. That means someone they love or once loved, such as a current or former husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, or partner hurt them on purpose. And I hate to say it, but in some cases, women don’t survive the attack.

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that reviewed female homicide data found that over half of the killings for which circumstances were known were related to intimate partner violence. Over 90 percent of these women were killed by a current or former intimate partner, and arguments and jealousy were cited as common causes. One in 10 of these women had also experienced some form of violence the month before their deaths.

Everyone deserves to be in a healthy relationship that is safe and supportive. If you’re in an abusive relationship, you have options. People want to help you. Whether you’re considering getting help for yourself or a loved one, remember that abuse takes many forms and can change over time. Abuse isn’t just physical. It can be emotional or financial, too. However, abuse often starts out as emotional and becomes physical later.

If you’re being abused, you may feel trapped, afraid, sad, angry, shocked, confused, or ashamed. You may even feel like it’s your fault. It’s not. No one has the right to hurt you — ever. Take the first step to safety, and talk to someone about what is happening to you. If you’re not sure who to talk to, a great place to start is the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE. They have advocates available 24/7 to talk confidentially with anyone experiencing abuse.

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