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Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Michael D. Crews

Florida Department of Corrections
Timothy H. Cannon, Interim Secretary

Executive Summary

Over 90% of the public in Florida say that domestic violence is a widespread problem in our society and is present in over 40% of the households. A survey on domestic violence in Florida was developed by the Florida Department of Corrections in June 1999, to learn more about the public's perceptions of domestic violence issues. Florida citizens were asked their opinions on the extent of domestic violence, why it continues, and how to respond to the problem. The extent of the problem is evidenced by the fact that more than 55% of the population reported knowing someone who is a victim of domestic violence and almost 44% have actually witnessed the abuse. The vast majority of Floridians (92.0%) indicate that treatment should be required for people who have physically abused someone.

The magnitude of domestic violence

More than 9 of every 10 Floridians (91.5%) say that domestic violence is a widespread problem in Florida. They believe, on average, that 38.6% of men have physically abused their wives or girlfriends at some point in time. When defining domestic violence as any physical act of violence by a man toward his wife or girlfriend, the average citizen believes that this has occurred in 41.3% of households in Florida. The majority of respondents (78.6%) believe that over the past 10 years, the number of incidents of domestic violence in Florida has increased.

Who are the victims of domestic violence?

Photo of battered woman and law emforcement officer Over 55% of Floridians know at least one person who is a victim of domestic violence. When asked what their relationship is to the victim of domestic violence, Floridians responded "Friend" (42.9%) more often than anything else. Over 43% of Floridians have witnessed a man physically abusing his wife or girlfriend.

Why does domestic violence continue?

Over 77% of Floridians disagree with the statement that "Domestic violence exists because the police won't stop it." However, most Floridians (56.7%) believe the media do not direct enough attention to the issue of domestic violence, while only 17.8% believe that too much attention is being paid to the issue. The primary reasons citizens believe domestic violence is a problem include:

  • most women will not leave the men who abuse them,
  • a couple's inability to communicate and resolve conflicts,
  • drug and alcohol problems, and
  • many women have to choose between living on their own and being poor or staying in the home where they are being battered.

Punishment for domestic violence

Photo of law emforcement officer placing handcuffed man in police car.Over 8 in 10 Floridians (86.3%) believe that an arrest should be made when the police suspect domestic violence has occurred. Similarly, almost 9 of 10 Floridians (85.3%) believe imprisonment is the appropriate punishment for domestic violence incidents involving serious bodily injury. Overall, 76.6% of Floridians believe that a person who has physically abused someone should be punished and forced to receive treatment.

Taxpayer money and the prevention of domestic violence

The majority of Floridians believe that not enough taxpayer money is spent on the enforcement, prevention or treatment of domestic violence. Overall, 8 of 10 Floridians say they would agree to an increase in taxes to fund more counseling for victims. Over 7 of 10 report that they would agree to an increase in taxes to fund more shelters for abused women.

Willingness to help in domestic violence situations

Photo of young girl watching parents argue More than 9 of 10 Floridians say they would call the police if they heard the sounds of physical assault from the couple next door. Overall 93.0% of Floridians report that they would testify in court about a domestic violence incident that they witnessed.

Possession of a firearm illegal

Almost 9 of 10 Floridians agree with legislation that has made it illegal for an individual who has been convicted of domestic violence, or is the subject of an injunction, to possess a firearm. Overall, almost 90% of the respondents are against the provision that makes law enforcement officers and military personnel exempt from the firearm law.

Batterer Intervention Programs

Almost 6 of 10 Floridians (59.4%) are not aware that men charged with domestic abuse can be ordered to attend Batterer's Intervention Programs where they can be taught to "unlearn" violence and avoid committing further acts of abuse. Over 9 of 10 Floridians (91.8%) believe that it should be mandatory for all men charged with domestic violence to be required to attend Batterer's Intervention Programs.