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Domestic Violence in the Family

Updated: Oct 21, 2021

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). The purpose of DVAM is to raise awareness about the issues of domestic violence and to connect individuals and organizations to information and resources to help resolve those issues.

The Law Office of S.A. Peterkin is proud to represent survivors of domestic violence in U-Visa and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) petitions. Under VAWA, as a battered spouse, child, or parent, you may qualify for a U.S. green card (lawful permanent residence). The U-Visa is another form of immigration relief for victims of serious crimes, including domestic violence, but there is no relationship requirement like there is for those applying for a green card under VAWA. We are grateful to work closely with local organizations which also support survivors, such as Anointed Community Service International and Stand Up Survivor.

Because we understand the unique challenges survivors face, raising awareness about domestic violence is important to us.

Domestic violence comes in many forms and from more than just intimate partners. Domestic violence means 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. § 741.28(2). “Family or household member” means spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently living together as if a family or who have lived together in the past as if a family and persons who are parents of a child together regardless of whether or not they have been married or lived together. § 741.28(3).

Types of Family Domestic Violence

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship. Intimate partner violence can take place whether or not the parties live together, and can include physical violence as well as controlling behaviors, financial abuse, isolation, and emotional abuse.

Child Abuse is when someone causes (or there is a risk of) injury, death, or emotional harm to a child. Child abuse can take many forms, including physical abuse, sexual abuse and grooming (deliberately establishing a connection with a child to prepare for sexual abuse), bullying, and neglect. Some of these abuses can happen online and can be perpetuated by more than just family members.

Child-to-Parent Violence (CPV) is violence or abuse committed by children (adolescent or adult) against their parents. It can be difficult to recognize the behaviors by children toward their parents as abusive versus as general emotional and behavioral disturbances that many children experience. CPV can manifest as verbal abuse, causing damage in the home (particularly when upset), extorting money, manipulation, threats of physical harm, and can also include sexual violence. CPV often involves the child showing abusive behaviors toward the opposite-sex parent, particularly in male children.

Sibling Abuse is a pattern where one sibling becomes aggressive toward another who consistently feels bullied. Sibling abuse can be expressed through behaviors that may seem innocent at first—ordering, manipulation, poking, tickling, teasing, etc. According to Psychology Today, sibling abuse is the most common but least reported abuse in the family.

The Dynamics of Domestic Violence

There are many factors to consider when it comes to domestic violence. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), “Violence in relationships occurs when one person feels entitled to power and control over their partner and chooses to use abuse to gain and maintain that control. In relationships where domestic violence exists, violence is not equal. Even if the victim fights back or instigates violence in an effort to diffuse a situation. There is always one person who is the primary, constant source of power, control, and abuse in the relationship.

Family-based domestic violence can occur between any relative living in the same home. In addition to those listed above, this includes grandparents, cousins, aunts/uncles, nieces/nephews, etc. Victims of domestic violence—regardless of the type of relationship they have to the abuser—experience a range feelings and emotions. They may experience feelings of isolation, depression, embarrassment, anxiety, anger; they may feel like they have no support or way out of the situation, they may turn to substance use/abuse, and may even deny the abuse has taken place. And because of the dynamics of family and partner relationships, the victim will likely still love their abuser, and may feel guilty about the relationship.

Further, domestic violence does not always manifest in a physical or violent way. Domestic violence can present as manipulation, intimidation, coercion, humiliation, and isolation, among many other presentations.

It is important to know that no matter what kind of domestic/family-related abuse a person is being subjected to, there is help available. The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233, and the Florida Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-500-1119. The help provided by these hotlines is confidential and anonymous and available 24/7.

For a county-by-county list of Domestic Violence Centers in Florida, visit:

The Law Office of S.A. Peterkin is here to stand with you!


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