For most of us, home is the place we can relax, breathe deep, and feel safe and secure. For others, home is the scariest place of all. Domestic violence is an evil that runs through our society, a secret shared by many who suffer alone. We believe in shedding light on this problem, bringing an end to the suffering of its victims, and empowering them to take back their lives. Criminal prosecutions are an important part of this process. Civil domestic violence claims can also help victims fight back and recover monetary damages that allow them to move forward into a better life. We are proud to serve as a Panama City domestic violence civil law firm and to play a role in reclaiming home.
Last week on Wednesday, October 30th, the eve of a night known for manufactured thrills and chills, a candlelight vigil covered by WJHG's reporters served as a reminder of those who've fought very real demons. Advocates gathered at Gulf Coast State College to remember the lives claimed by domestic violence and honor the brave people who've survived. The event's organizers also hoped to inform those currently suffering that there is help available. One resource is the Salvation Army's Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Center. Pam Martin and Donna Mooney, two of the Center's team members, spoke about resources such as housing, clothing, and job-search support. They also emphasized letting victims be heard and sharing a message of hope, including stories of people who escaped domestic violence (such as Mooney herself).
As the article noted, while it is usually hidden behind closed doors, there is a new case of domestic violence every nine seconds in our country. According to experts, on a global level, 1 out of every 3 women across the globe will be abused or coerced into a sex act at some point in their lives. In many cases, domestic violence starts with a relationship that seems loving and gradually becomes possessive and isolating. Victims often feel dependent on their partners, which makes it hard to escape when the relationship grows violent. It is important to note that men can also be victims of domestic violence.
We encourage any in an abusive situation, as well as anyone who suspects they know someone who is a victim of domestic violence, to seek help. The Salvation Army's Abuse hotline is 1-800-252-2597, and it is one of the Certified Domestic Violence Centers listed by the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Emergency responders can also help victims take the important first steps towards escaping from domestic violence.
As victims begin to confront their abusers and more toward a safer home environment, we also encourage them to consider filing a civil lawsuit against their abuser. While criminal cases are controlled by prosecutors, victims bring civil claims themselves. Criminal court is focused on the abuser and punishment; civil court is about the victim and the harm done to them. The civil courts have a lower burden of proof than criminal courts, meaning that a civil case may be successful even when a criminal prosecution is not. This is key in domestic violence cases when there can be a lot of "he said, she said" (again, we emphasize that "he" or "she" can be the victim). Also, civil cases may be filed against third parties who contributed to the abuse, such as building management whose security lapses allowed the abuse to continue.
Two points worth special note:
Safety should be a victim's first priority. Once you are safe, call our Panama City victim's attorney to talk about how we can help you rebuild and find a place worthy of being called "home."