Category: General

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a pattern of control one person uses over another in an intimate relationship. 



Types of abuse and control can be:

Emotional abuse: Possessiveness; isolation; jealousy; threats of arrests or child protection reports; the feeling of walking on eggshells; the feeling you can never do enough or anything right; “gas lighting,” or calling you and/or your suspicions crazy; using past or current substance abuse to keep you from leaving;

Verbal abuse: Name calling, especially in front of children; belittling; threatening to kill you, themselves or your pets; “If I can’t have you, no one can.”

Physical abuse:  Keeping you awake at night; choking; not allowing you to leave or be alone in a room; throwing and breaking items, including cell phones; hitting, punching, and kicking; hurting family pets; pressure to engage in unwanted sexual activity such as not using a condom or outright sexual assault;

Financial Abuse: Not allowing you to work or not working themselves (either creates financial instability to keep you from leaving); withholding money; giving you an “allowance” for food or gas; withholding access to bank cards and accounts; withholding access to vehicles or the home;


What are some warning signs?

Everyone and every relationship are different but listed below can be some general red flags:

  • Moving the relationship along very quickly even if it’s uncomfortable for you
  • Keeping you from friends and family and maybe even work
  • Demanding to check your phone and asking for passwords to your social media accounts
  • Showing anger, a short temper, and an inability to cope; blaming everyone else for this behavior





Sexual Violence

Sexual Violence

What is Consent?


Definition of Consent:

  • Verb (used without object) to permit, approve, or agree; comply or yield (often followed by to or an infinitive):

Example: He consented to the proposal. We asked her permission, and she consented.

  • Noun: permission, approval, or agreement; compliance; acquiescence:

Example: He gave his consent to the marriage.




What is sexual violence?

Sexual violence means that someone forces or manipulates someone else into unwanted sexual activity without their consent. Reasons someone might not consent include fear, age, illness, disability, and/or influence of alcohol or other drugs. Anyone can experience sexual violence including: children, teens, adults, and elders. Those who sexually abuse can be acquaintances, family members, trusted individuals or strangers.


Forms of sexual violence


  • Rape or sexual assault

    • Definition of Rape: unlawful sexual intercourse or any other sexual penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth of another person, with or without force, by a sex organ, other body part, or foreign object, without the consent of the victim.
  • Child sexual assault and incest
  • Intimate partner sexual assault unwanted sexual contact/touching

  • Sexual harassment

    • Definition of Sexual Harassment: noun-unwelcome sexual advances made by an employer or superior, especially when compliance is made a condition of continued employment or advancement.
  • Sexual exploitation
    • Sexual exploitation is an act or acts committed through non-consensual abuse or exploitation of another person’s sexuality for the purpose of sexual gratification, financial gain, personal benefit or advantage, or any other non-legitimate purpose.
  • Showing one’s genitals or naked body to other(s) without consent y Masturbating in public
  • Watching someone in a private act without their knowledge or permission


Myths and Facts about Sexual Violence


The U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women compiled the following myths and facts of sexual violence:


Myth #1: Victims provoke sexual assaults when they dress provocatively or act in a promiscuous manner.

Fact: Rape and sexual assault are crimes of violence and control that stem from a person’s determination to exercise power over another. Neither provocative dress nor promiscuous behavior are invitations for unwanted sexual activity. Forcing someone to engage in non-consensual sexual activity is sexual assault, regardless of the way that person dresses or acts.


Myth #2: If a person goes to someone’s room, house, or goes to a bar, he/she assumes the risk of sexual assault. If something happens later, he/she can’t claim that he/she was raped or sexually assaulted because he/she should have known not to go to those places.

Fact: This “assumption of risk” wrongfully places the responsibility of the offender’s actions with the victim. Even if a person went voluntarily to someone’s residence or room and consented to engage in some sexual activity, it does not serve as a blanket consent for all sexual activity. If a person is unsure about whether the other person is comfortable with an elevated level of sexual activity, the person should stop and ask. When someone says “No” or “Stop”, that means STOP. Sexual activity forced upon another without consent is sexual assault.


Myth #3: It’s not sexual assault if it happens after drinking or taking drugs.

Fact: Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs is not an invitation for non-consensual sexual activity. A person under the influence of drugs or alcohol does not cause others to assault him/her; others choose to take advantage of the situation and sexually assault him/her because he/she is in a vulnerable position. Many state laws hold that a person who is cognitively impaired due to the influence of drugs or alcohol is not able to consent to sexual activity. The act of an offender who deliberately uses alcohol as a means to subdue someone in order to engage in non-consensual sexual activity is also criminal.


Information sourced from:


Additional Statistics

Dating Violence

Dating Violence


Physical abuse is any intentional and unwanted contact with you or something close to your body. Sometimes abusive behavior does not cause pain or even leave a bruise, but it’s still unhealthy.

Examples of physical abuse are:

  • Scratching, punching, biting, strangling or kicking.
  • Throwing something at you such as a phone, book, shoe or plate.
  • Pulling your hair.
  • Pushing or pulling you.
  • Grabbing your clothing.
  • Using a gun, knife, box cutter, bat, mace or other weapon.
  • Smacking your bottom.
  • Forcing you to have sex or perform a sexual act.
  • Grabbing your face to make you look at them.
  • Grabbing you to prevent you from leaving or to force you to go somewhere.


Sexual abuse refers to any action that pressures or coerces someone to do something sexually they don’t want to do. It can also refer to behavior that impacts a person’s ability to control their sexual activity or the circumstances in which sexual activity occurs, including oral sex, rape or restricting access to birth control and condoms.

It is important to know that just because the victim “didn’t say no,” doesn’t mean that they meant “yes.” When someone does not resist an unwanted sexual advance, it doesn’t mean that they consented. Sometimes physically resisting can put a victim at a bigger risk for further physical or sexual abuse.

Some think that if the victim didn’t resist, that it doesn’t count as abuse. That’s not true. It’s still is. This myth is hurtful because it makes it more difficult for the victim to speak out and more likely that they will blame themselves. Whether they were intoxicated or felt pressured, intimidated or obligated to act a certain way, it’s never the victim’s fault.

Some examples of sexual assault and abuse are:

  • Unwanted kissing or touching.
  • Unwanted rough or violent sexual activity.
  • Rape or attempted rape.
  • Refusing to use condoms or restricting someone’s access to birth control.
  • Keeping someone from protecting themselves from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • Sexual contact with someone who is very drunk, drugged, unconscious or otherwise unable to give a clear and informed “yes” or “no.”
  • Threatening someone into unwanted sexual activity.
  • Repeatedly pressuring someone to have sex or perform sexual acts.
  • Repeatedly using sexual insults toward someone.


Emotional abuse includes non-physical behaviors such as threats, insults, constant monitoring or “checking in,” excessive texting, humiliation, intimidation, isolation or stalking.

There are many behaviors that qualify as emotional or verbal abuse:

  • Calling you names and putting you down.
  • Yelling and screaming at you.
  • Intentionally embarrassing you in public.
  • Preventing you from seeing or talking with friends and family.
  • Telling you what to do and wear.
  • Using online communities or cell phones to control, intimidate or humiliate you.
  • Blaming your actions for their abusive or unhealthy behavior.
  • Stalking you.
  • Threatening to commit suicide to keep you from breaking up with them.
  • Threatening to harm you, your pet or people you care about.
  • Making you feel guilty or immature when you don’t consent to sexual activity.
  • Threatening to expose your secrets such as your sexual orientation or immigration status.
  • Starting rumors about you.
  • Threatening to have your children taken away.


You are being stalked when a person repeatedly watches, follows or harasses you, making you feel afraid or unsafe. A stalker can be someone you know, a past boyfriend or girlfriend or a stranger. While the actual legal definition varies from one state to another, here are some examples of what stalkers may do:

  • Show up at your home or place of work unannounced or uninvited.
  • Send you unwanted text messages, letters, emails and voicemails.
  • Leave unwanted items, gifts or flowers.
  • Constantly call you and hang up.
  • Use social networking sites and technology to track you.
  • Spread rumors about you via the internet or word of mouth.
  • Make unwanted phone calls to you.
  • Call your employer or professor.
  • Wait at places you hang out.
  • Use other people as resources to investigate your life. For example, looking at your facebook page through someone else’s page or befriending your friends in order to get more information about you.
  • Damage your home, car or other property.

Dating violence can take place in person or electronically (such as repeated texting, posting sexual pictures of a partner online, cyberstalking, cyber harassment, etc.). Unhealthy relationships can start early in life and last a lifetime. Teens often think behaviors like teasing and name calling are a “normal” par of a relationship, but these behaviors can become abusive and develop into more serious forms of violence.

Why is dating violence a problem?

Dating violence is a widespread issue that has serious long-term and short-term effects. Many teens do not report it because they are afraid to tell friends and family.

According to the Center for Disease Control

  • Among adult victims of rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, 22% of women and 15% of men first experienced some for of partner violence between the ages of 11 and 17.
  • Approximately 9% of high school students report being hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the 12 months before surveyed.

How does dating violence effect health?

Dating violence can have a negative effect on health throughout life. Youth who are victims are more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety, engage in unhealthy behaviors, like using tobacco, drugs and alcohol, or exhibit antisocial behaviors and think about suicide. Youth who are victims of dating violence in high school are at a higher risk for victimization during college as well.

Who is at risk for dating violence?

According the the Center for Disease Control, factors that increase risk for harming a dating partner include…

  • Belief that dating violence is acceptable.
  • Depression, anxiety and other trauma symptoms.
  • Aggression towards peers and other aggressive behavior.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Early sexual activity and having multiple sexual partners.
  • Having a friend involved in dating violence.
  • Conflict with partner.
  • Witnessing or experiencing violence in the home.

Want to learn more about dating violence?

  • Contact our prevention educator by phone 941-627-6000 or by email.
  • CDC’s Dating Matters: Strategies to Promote Healthy Teen Relationships
  • National Dating Abuse Helpline: 1-866-331-9474 or text 77054
  • Love is Respect:
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
  • National Sexual Violence Resource Center:



Stalking is the unwanted pursuit of one person by another.  When a person repeatedly watches, follows or harasses you, making you feel afraid or unsafe.  A stalker can be someone you know, a past boyfriend or girlfriend or a stranger.

Common Stalking Behaviors

  • Showing up at your home or place of work unannounced or uninvited.
  • Sending you unwanted text messages, letters, emails and voicemails.
  • Leaving unwanted items, gifts or flowers.
  • Constantly calling you and hanging up.
  • Using social networking sites and technology to track you.
  • Spreading rumors about you via the internet or word of mouth.
  • Making unwanted phone calls to you.
  • Calling your employer or professors.
  • Waiting at places you hang out.
  • Using other people as resources to investigate your life. For example, looking at your facebook page through someone else’s page or befriending your friends in order to get more information about you.
  • Damaging your home, car or other property.

What to do if you’re being Stalked

If you’re being stalked, you may be feeling stressed, vulnerable or anxious. You may also have trouble sleeping or concentrating at work or school. Remember, you are not alone. Every year in the United States, 3.4 million people are stalked and youth between the ages of 18-24 experience the highest rates. Most people assume that stalkers are strangers, but actually three in four victims are harassed by someone they know.  If you are in immediate danger, call 911 and report everything that’s happened to the police.

Things to remember, if you are being stalked

Remember to save important evidence such as:

  • Text messages
  • Voicemails
  • Videos
  • Letters, photos and cards
  • Unwanted items or gifts
  • Social media friend requests
  • Emails

You should write down the times, places and dates all incidents occurred. Include the names and contact information of people who witnessed what happened.

Stalking is traumatic.

You may experience nightmares, lose sleep, get depressed or feel like you’re no longer in control of your life.

These reactions are normal.

It can help to tell your friends and family about the stalking and develop a safety planning.

You can also call us at 941-627-6000 or 941-475-6465 and speak to an advocate 24/7.




When someone uses social media, email, blogs and other forms of electronic communication to repeatedly threaten and harass someone else.

Cyberstalking is a crime, and should be taken seriously.

Cyberstalking is similar to physical stalking in that…

  • The person being stalked usually knows their stalker.
  • The stalkers motivation is to exert power and control over the victim.
  • Cyberstalking can lead to physical violence.
  • Victims suffer psychological trauma, often resulting in anxiety, depression, insomnia and even loss of employment.

Cyberstalking is different from physical stalking in that…

  • The stalker and victim can be located in different geographic areas (cities, states, countries, etc.).
  • The stalker relies on the internet to harass and threaten.
  • The stalker can easily encourage other users to harass the victim by pretending to be a victim themselves.
  • The lack of direct contact can sometimes make it difficult to arrest the offender.

Tips to prevent cyberstalking…

  • Use safe sites that have an anti-harassment policy.
  • Never give out your personal information.
  • When online, only say things you would say to a person face to face.
  • When typing things online, consider the interpretation of it without the use of sound and body language.
  • Be very cautious about meeting an online acquaintance in person.
  • If you are being harassed by someone, block them immediately.

If you are being cyberstalked…

  • If you are under 18, immediately talk to a parent, guardian or an adult you can trust. You may be in physical danger
  • Most social sites have filtering capabilities, so block the user.
  • Report the person on the site you are using for harassment.
  • Keep a log of all the communications you had with the stalker. Do not alter them in anyway; they could be used as evidence.
  • Make it clear to the stalker that you do not want them to contact you again in any way.
  • If the harassment does not stop, call 911 and contact your local police department and inform them of the situation.
How to help a friend?

How to help a friend?

If you are suspecting that your friend or family member is experiencing abuse of any kind, there are things YOU CAN do to help.




Guide your friend to community services

Let your friend know about the services offered in your community, like us at C.A.R.E.  Let your friend know that THEY ARE NOT ALONE and that if he/she doesn’t want to discuss the abuse with you, they can contact a certified victim advocate for FREE at 941-627-6000 or 941-475-6465 and everything they say is completely confidential.



How to help a victim of Domestic Violence?

The following are helpful tips on how to approach the situation if the victim is not ready to call C.A.R.E. for assistance.


Start the Conversation

You can bring up the subject of domestic violence by saying “I’m worried about you because …..” or “I’m concerned about your safety…” Maybe you’ve seen the person wearing unusual clothing for the weather to cover up bruises or noticed that the person wearing extra make-up. Maybe they have suddenly become unusually quiet or withdrawn. All of these behaviors can be signs of abuse.

Take it slow and easy.  Let the person know that you are available and offering a sympathetic ear. Do not force the conversation, this may lead them to shut down.

Listen Without Judgment

If the person does decide to talk, listen to the story without being judgmental. This can be difficult at times for many of us, just do your best. Offer advice, or suggest realistic solutions. Chances are if you actively listen, the person will tell you exactly what they need. You can ask clarifying questions, but mainly just let the person vent their feelings and fears. You may be the first person in which the victim has confided.

Believe the Victim

Domestic violence is more about control than anger, often the victim is the only one who sees the dark side of the perpetrator. More often than not, friends and family members are shocked to learn that a loved one could commit acts of violence. Consequently, victims often will feel that no one will believe them if they told people about the violence. Believe the victim and offer them reassurance. Examples include:

I believe you

This is not your fault

You don’t deserve this.

For a victim, finally having someone who knows the truth about their struggles can bring a sense of hope and relief.

Validate their Feelings

It’s not unusual for victims to express conflicting feelings about their partner and their situation. These feelings can range from:

Guilt/ Anger

Hope/ Despair

Love/ Fear

It is important you validate their feelings by explaining that, having these conflicting thoughts/feelings is completely normal. But it is also important that you confirm that violence is not okay! It is not normal to live in fear of being abused. Some victims may not realize that their situation is abnormal because they have no other models for relationships and have gradually become accustomed to the cycle of violence.

Be informed

You’re obviously already trying to become informed by reading this information, but find out all the facts you can about domestic violence. We have tons of information under the “Get Help” tab on our website.

Build your friend up

Let them know their potential, they will survive and overcome this situation. Describe all of their good qualities; “You are: Strong, Beautiful, Intelligent, ETC . You don’t know how beat down they have been from their abuser; they do not need anyone else pointing out their so-called flaws.

Be patient

Reaching out for help takes A LOT of courage. There are many factors that may delay your friend from seeking help or leaving their abuser. Here are just a few examples:

  • Fear of harm if they leave
  • They still love their partner and believe they will change
  • A strong belief that marriage is “for better or worse”
  • Thinking the abuse is their fault
  • Staying for the children
  • Lack of self-confidence
  • Lack of means (job, money, transportation) to survive on their own

There is also a good chance if they leave their abuser, they may go back. Please remember to be patient and supportive despite how frustrating the situation may become. Your friend/ family member needs you!



How to help a victim of Rape?

Guide your friend to community services

Let your friend know about the services offered in your community, like us at C.A.R.E.  Let your friend know that THEY ARE NOT ALONE and that if he/she doesn’t want to discuss the assault with you, they can contact a certified victim advocate for FREE at 941-637-0404 or 941-475-6465 the conversation will be completely confidential.


The following are helpful tips on how to approach the situation if the victim is not ready to call C.A.R.E. for assistance.


Believe the victim. Make it clear to the victim you believe the assault happened and that the assault is the fault of the abuser, NOT the victim.


Remain calm

You might feel shock, anger or rage, but expressing these emotions to the victims may cause more trauma.

Encourage medical attention

Medical care is important, there may be internal injuries that are not obvious, or the victim may have been exposed to sexually transmitted diseases. Victims are entitled to a forensic medical exam, whether or not they decide to report the assault to Law Enforcement.


Give the Victim Control

Control has been stripped from the victim during the assault. Allow the victim to make their own decisions about what steps to take next, while staying supportive.

Maintain confidentiality

Let the victim decide who will know about the assault.

Let the victim express feeling

Listen without adding your opinions. If the victim wishes to remain silent, do not force discussion. Say you will be there to listen always. It is important for you not to judge a victim’s response. One victim may react very emotionally and another may be extremely calm. No matter how victims react, their emotions are normal and okay.

Some common/immediate reactions to sexual assault:


Shaking/ denial






Links and Resources

Links and Resources

Links and Resources

Power and control is a pattern of controlling behaviors that may include physical, sexual or emotional abuse. It can be found in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships.


power and control