There is an epidemic of abuse sweeping across the United States. Millions are affected every year, and it is essential that every method that can be used to protect victims and potential victims is utilized.
Fortunately, in Florida there are a number of different types of civil injunctions that can be used to protect victims from their abusers or would-be abusers. Better known as restraining orders, these court orders have various requirements based on the circumstances of the case intended to provide legal protection for those who fear for their safety or the safety of loved ones. Generally speaking, alleged abusers are required by these injunctions—under threat of criminal penalties like jail time—to not come in contact with the person who files for the injunction and to adhere to any other stipulations dictated by the judge who issues the order.
Below are the five main restraining orders which can be obtained in Florida:
Domestic Violence Injunctions
Unfortunately, it is oftentimes those we are closest to who are the most likely to perpetrate abuse. Domestic violence is one of the most prevalent forms of abuse in the United States, affecting over 10 million men and women every year according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. A wide variety of actions constitute domestic violence in the state of Florida for the purposes of obtaining an injunction for protection against domestic violence. These include any form of assault, battery, false imprisonment, and more. When any of these acts are perpetrated against a family member or a member of the same household, it qualifies as domestic violence. If you have been the victim of any of these actions at the hands of a family or household member, or you have reason to believe you are in immediate danger of becoming the victim of domestic violence, you can obtain either a temporary or final restraining order from a Florida judge.
Repeat Violence Injunctions
While domestic violence injunctions only protect victims who face abuse at the hands of family members, it is not only family members who perpetrate abuse. When you have suffered repeated episodes of violence at the hands of an individual who is neither a family member or a member of your household, you may be able to obtain protection in the form of a repeat violence restraining order. If anyone has committed two or more acts of violence or stalking against you or an immediate family member—such as your children—and one of those acts was committed within the last six months, you are eligible for this type of injunction.
Dating Violence Injunctions
Dating violence injunctions are similar to domestic violence injunctions, but for situations where you are the victim of abuse at the hands of someone who is not a member of your household, and with whom you have engaged in an ongoing romantic relationship within the last six months. If a boyfriend or girlfriend has committed any form of violence against you, or you have reason to believe you are in immediate danger of violence, the dating violence injunction can serve to protect you.
Sexual Violence Injunctions
Whether or not you have engaged in an ongoing relationship with someone in the past six months, if anyone commits any form of sexual violence against you—as defined by Florida statutes—then you are eligible to obtain a sexual violence restraining order. Sexual violence is a very broad category and also applies if you are aware of a minor child who is living at home who has been the victim of sexual violence. The key requirement to obtain a sexual violence injunction is that you must have reported the incident to police and you must cooperate with any criminal investigation against the perpetrator of the sexual violence.
The final type of restraining order victims of abuse may be able to obtain in Florida is an injunction for protection against stalking or cyberstalking. Stalking is defined in Florida as repeated, malicious harassment that serves no legitimate purpose and causes you emotional distress. Cyberstalking is defined similarly as repeated electronic communication (email, text, etc) which causes emotional distress with no legitimate purpose. Harassment includes a broad category of actions under Florida statutes, such as issuing threats, destruction of property, intentionally harming a pet, and much more. Since stalking and cyberstalking is so broadly defined, there are many situations that could call for protection via a stalking injunction.
Please keep in mind, if you are ever the victim of abuse or violence, or you fear for your safety, you should remove yourself from immediate danger and contact the police right away.