Learn More: Domestic Violence

What does this mean?

Domestic violence (DV) is a pattern of behaviors that adults or adolescents use against their intimate partners or former partners to establish power and control. It may include physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and economic abuse. It may also include threats, isolation, pet abuse, using children and a variety of other behaviors used to maintain fear, intimidation and power over one's partner. Domestic violence knows no boundaries. It occurs in intimate relationships, regardless of race, religion, culture or socioeconomic status. (Florida Department of Children and Families)

The domestic violence statistics presented on the Community Atlas are from the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) compiled by multiple law enforcement agencies operating in Hillsborough County. The UCR is a standardized law enforcement reporting system used throughout the United States to track crime. When reviewing domestic violence statistics it is important to remember that it refers to offenses (or events) not arrests (or persons).

The information on domestic violence presented on the Community Atlas includes reports of the following offenses:

  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Forcible Rape
  • Forcible Sodomy
  • Forcible Fondling
  • Aggravated Assault
  • Aggravated Stalking
  • Simple Assault
  • Threat/Intimidation
  • Stalking

Some interesting facts about Florida trends in domestic violence:

  • After years of steady increases in total domestic violence numbers, the total number of reported domestic violence offenses began it decline in 1998. From 1996 to 2005, domestic violence is down 9.3 percent in number and down 27 percent in rate.
  • Information on the rates of DV among Florida's large counties (500,000 population or more), shows Pinellas County (865 offenses / 100,000) and Hillsborough County (847 offenses / 100,000) have the highest rates of domestic violence (2006). Polk County (833) and Orange County (783) have the next highest rates.
  • The trend from 2005 to 2006 was a 3.4% reduction in all offenses for Pinellas County, and a 4.6% decrease in all offenses for Hillsborough County.
  • Locally, the Family Justice Center of Hillsborough County is a major purveyor of services to improve the lives of family violence victims through community collaboration and the provision of comprehensive services in a single location (see website address below).

Why is it important?

Domestic violence can affect families in many deleterious ways. Child abuse, for example, is also prevalent and often occurs in the same families as domestic violence. Research indicates that merely witnessing domestic violence can have profound effects on children. Childhood exposure to domestic violence is associated with increased aggression, depression and anxiety, lower levels of social competence, and poorer academic functioning. "Family violence threatens child" is the alleged maltreatment most reported to the Florida Abuse Hotline every year. Childhood exposure to family violence also significantly increases the likelihood of either perpetrating or being the victim of violence as an adult. (Florida Department of Children and Families)

Domestic violence data can be an important tool for communities to better understand patterns and trends. Looking at the data, a community can see whether DV is increasing or decreasing. They can also see how they compare to other communities around the county. Crime is often considered a quality of life issue for communities.

Before interpreting the DV crime data presented, please read the "Caveats and Limitations." Crime data can easily be misunderstood and misused. View this data as a tool to better understand crime conditions, not as an exact reflection of what is going on in a community.

How are the data collected (methods)?

The data in the UCR are collected by each individual law enforcement agency and reported to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Domestic violence includes reported offenses (or events) for specific types of crimes. The data were received from the following agencies:

  • Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office: Offenses reported by the county crime grid.
  • Tampa Police Department: Offenses reported by the city crime grid.
  • Florida Department of Law Enforcement: Offenses reported by the municipalities and/or areas covered by responsible law enforcement agencies.

Caveats and Limitations

  • The data presented are for reported crimes only. The total number of actual crimes taking place might be higher than reported.
  • The information presented is only for domestic violence crimes. This is not a full representation of reported crimes.
  • The Uniform Crime Report has a hierarchy rule, which states: "In a multiple-offense situation (i.e., one where several offenses are committed at the same time and place), after classifying all Part I offenses, score only the highest ranking offense, and ignore all others, regardless of the number of offenders and victims. (UCR Handbook, Pg. 33)" What this means is that although a person might commit multiple crimes during the same event, only the most severe crime is reported. Therefore, the total number of actual crimes taking place might be higher than reported in the UCR.
  • The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office follows the hierarchy rule when reporting their statistics to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and in the data provided to the Community Atlas. However, on the website maintained by the Sheriff's Office, they do not use the hierarchy rule and present all reported crimes. Therefore, the data on the Community Atlas (and reported on the FDLE website) are not directly comparable with the data provided on the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office website.
  • Data on the number of total offenses in Hillsborough County may vary slightly from the number of offenses reported to FDLE because not all data could be geocoded or assigned to specific sub-areas of the County.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please view the Frequently Asked Questions for Uniform Crime Reports developed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation: http://www.ucrdatatool.gov/faq.cfm. Other sources of information on domestic violence in Florida include the Florida Department of Children and Families (http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/programs/domesticviolence/) and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Additional Information