Study Points

Domestic Violence: The Florida Requirement

Course #97922 - $15 • 2 Hours/Credits

  • Back to Course Home
  • Participation Instructions
    • Review the course material online or in print.
    • Complete the course evaluation.
    • Review your Transcript to view and print your Certificate of Completion. Your date of completion will be the date (Pacific Time) the course was electronically submitted for credit, with no exceptions. Partial credit is not available.
  1. Most healthcare professionals will encounter patients in their practice who are victims of domestic violence.

    INTRODUCTION

    Domestic violence continues to be a prevalent problem in the United States today. Because of the number of individuals affected, it is likely that most healthcare professionals will encounter patients in their practice who are victims. Accordingly, it is essential that healthcare professionals are taught to recognize and accurately interpret behaviors associated with domestic violence. It is incumbent upon the healthcare professional to establish and implement protocols for early identification of domestic violence victims and their abusers. In order to prevent domestic violence and promote the well-being of their patients, healthcare professionals in all settings should take the initiative to properly assess all women for abuse during each visit and, for those women who are or may be victims, to offer education, counseling, and referral information.

    Click to Review
  2. The Florida Department of Children and Families' definition of domestic violence may include pet abuse, physical abuse, and/or emotional abuse.

    DEFINING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

    Domestic violence, which is sometimes also referred to as spousal abuse, battering, or intimate partner violence (IPV), refers to the victimization of an individual with whom the abuser has or has had an intimate or romantic relationship. Researchers in the field of domestic violence have not agreed on a uniform definition of what constitutes violence or an abusive relationship. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines IPV as, "violence or aggression that occurs in a close relationship" [1]. According to the Florida Department of Children and Families, domestic violence is "a pattern of behaviors that adults or adolescents use against their intimate partners or former partners to establish power and control. It may include physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and economic abuse. It may also include threats, isolation, pet abuse, using children, and a variety of other behaviors used to maintain fear, intimidation, and power over one's partner" [2]. Florida law defines domestic violence 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" [3]. Family or household members, according to Florida definition, must "be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit" [3]. Domestic violence knows no boundaries. It occurs in intimate relationships regardless of race, religion, culture, or socioeconomic status [2].

    Click to Review
  3. Florida law defines domestic violence exclusively as spouse abuse or battering.

    DEFINING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

    Domestic violence, which is sometimes also referred to as spousal abuse, battering, or intimate partner violence (IPV), refers to the victimization of an individual with whom the abuser has or has had an intimate or romantic relationship. Researchers in the field of domestic violence have not agreed on a uniform definition of what constitutes violence or an abusive relationship. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines IPV as, "violence or aggression that occurs in a close relationship" [1]. According to the Florida Department of Children and Families, domestic violence is "a pattern of behaviors that adults or adolescents use against their intimate partners or former partners to establish power and control. It may include physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and economic abuse. It may also include threats, isolation, pet abuse, using children, and a variety of other behaviors used to maintain fear, intimidation, and power over one's partner" [2]. Florida law defines domestic violence 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" [3]. Family or household members, according to Florida definition, must "be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit" [3]. Domestic violence knows no boundaries. It occurs in intimate relationships regardless of race, religion, culture, or socioeconomic status [2].

    Click to Review
  4. House Bill 1099 strengthened domestic violence services by streamlining the process of allocating funds.

    NATIONAL AND STATE STATISTICS AND LEGISLATION

    In 2003, Governor Bush signed House Bill 1099, which transferred funding authority of the Florida Domestic Violence Trust Fund from the Department of Children and Families to the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence. According to the Domestic Violence in Florida 2010–2011 Annual Report to the Legislature, this has strengthened domestic violence services provided by streamlining the process of allocating funds [23].

    Click to Review
  5. The majority of children exposed to intimate partner violence are direct eyewitnesses.

    IDENTIFYING GROUPS AT RISK FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

    Children exposed to family violence are at high risk for abuse and for emotional damage that may affect them as they grow older. The Department of Justice estimates that of the 76 million children in the United States, 46 million will be exposed to some type of violence during their childhood [52]. Results of the National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence indicated that 11% of children were exposed to IPV at home within the last year, and as many as 26% of children were exposed to at least one form of family violence during their lifetimes [31]. Of those children exposed to IPV, 90% were direct eyewitnesses of the violence; the remaining children were exposed by either hearing the violence or seeing or being told about injuries [31]. Of note, according to Florida criminal law, witnessing domestic violence is defined as "violence in the presence of a child if an offender is convicted of a primary offense of domestic violence, and that offense was committed in the presence of a child under age 16 who is a family or household member with the victim or perpetrator" [32].

    Click to Review
  6. Domestic violence injury patterns are more likely than accidental injuries to involve the extremities of the body.

    SCREENING FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND ABUSE

    Several barriers to screening for domestic violence have been noted, including a lack of knowledge and training, time constraints, lack of privacy for asking appropriate questions, and the sensitive nature of the subject [35]. Although awareness and assessment for IPV has increased among healthcare providers, many are still hesitant to inquire about abuse [46]. At a minimum, those exhibiting signs of domestic violence should be screened. Although victims of IPV may not display typical signs and symptoms when they present to healthcare providers, there are certain cues that may be attributed to abuse. The obvious cues are physical. Injuries range from bruises, cuts, black eyes, concussions, broken bones, and miscarriages to permanent injuries such as damage to joints, partial loss of hearing or vision, and scars from burns, bites, or knife wounds. Typical injury patterns include contusions or minor lacerations to the head, face, neck, breast, or abdomen and musculoskeletal injuries. These are often distinguishable from accidental injuries, which are more likely to involve the extremities of the body. Abuse victims are also more likely to have multiple injuries than accident victims. When this pattern of injuries is seen, particularly in combination with evidence of old injury, physical abuse should be suspected [44].

    Click to Review
  7. In addition to physical signs and symptoms, domestic violence victims may also exhibit psychologic cues that resemble an agitated depression.

    SCREENING FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND ABUSE

    In addition to physical signs and symptoms, domestic violence victims also exhibit psychologic cues that resemble an agitated depression. As a result of prolonged stress, various psychosomatic symptoms that generally lack an organic basis often manifest. For example, complaints of backaches, headaches, and digestive problems are common. Often, there are reports of fatigue, restlessness, insomnia, or loss of appetite. Great amounts of anxiety, guilt, and depression or dysphoria are also typical. Women who experienced IPV are also more likely to report asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, and diabetes [4]. Healthcare professionals should look beyond the typical symptoms of a domestic violence victim and work within their respective practice settings to develop appropriate assessment mechanisms to detect victims who exhibit less obvious symptoms.

    Click to Review
  8. Assessment of domestic violence victims should occur immediately after disclosure of abuse and at any follow-up appointments.

    ASSESSING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND ABUSE

    Assessment of domestic violence victims should occur immediately after disclosure of abuse and at any follow-up appointments. Assessing immediate safety is priority. Having a list of questions readily available and well-practiced can help alleviate the uncertainty of how to begin to the assessment (Table 1). If the patient is in immediate danger, referral to an advocate, support system, hotline, or shelter is indicated [35].

    Click to Review
  9. Florida does not presently have a toll-free domestic violence hotline, although this was a recommendation of the Governor's Task Force on Domestic Violence.

    INTERVENTIONS FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND ABUSE

    In Florida, a 24-hour domestic violence hotline is available for toll-free counseling and information. The number is 800-500-1119. The counselors answering the toll-free line may refer the victim to her or his local domestic violence center. A list of Florida certified domestic violence centers organized by county and city may also be found on the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence website at https://www.fcadv.org/local-center-services. As of 2018, Florida had 72 certified domestic violence centers that provide information and referral services, counseling and case management services, a 24-hour hotline, temporary emergency shelter for more than 24 hours, educational services for community awareness relative to domestic violence, assessment and appropriate referral of resident children, and training for law enforcement personnel.

    Click to Review
  10. Domestic violence resulted in 162 deaths in Florida in 2017.

    NATIONAL AND STATE STATISTICS AND LEGISLATION

    In 2017, the FDLE reported 106,979 domestic violence offenses [6]. In general, domestic violence rates have been declining since 1998. An estimated 20.2% of domestic violence incidents involved spouses and 28.4% involved cohabitants; 11.5% of the victims were parents of the offenders. Domestic violence offenses resulted in the death of 162 victims in Florida in 2017, a number that has been decreasing since 2014 [6]. Domestic violence accounted for more than 15% of the state's murders in 2017 [6].

    Click to Review

  • Back to Course Home
  • Participation Instructions
    • Review the course material online or in print.
    • Complete the course evaluation.
    • Review your Transcript to view and print your Certificate of Completion. Your date of completion will be the date (Pacific Time) the course was electronically submitted for credit, with no exceptions. Partial credit is not available.