Domestic Violence Crosses All Boundaries

“Domestic violence is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality. It is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior that is only a fraction of a systematic pattern of dominance and control. Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence,” said Mary Riedel, CEO of Women in Distress. Women in Distress is a Broward based crisis center, founded in 1974. Eighty-three percent of domestic violence victims are female. Women in Distress, along with Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse and Harmony House provide women who are victims of domestic violence and their children with shelter, food, counseling and other needs. Mary Cauthen, the director of Harmony House, has been assisting victims for over thirteen years. She said, “The face of domestic violence has changed in a few ways. The violence has become more violent through the use of weapons. It seems like the types of violence perpetrated have escalated over the past few years. The control has now extended through technology like GPS, social media, etc. and this makes it that much harder to keep victims safe.”

 

October events

During National Domestic Violence Month in October, multiple events are being held to raise awareness and funds for those in abusive situations. Women in Distress holds an annual Silent Witness vigil, whose date and locations will soon be announced at womenindistress.org. There will be also b e city proclamations, law enforcement trainings and fundraising events throughout the community. Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse is hosting their sixteenth Annual Race for Hope. This event is presented by Marshall’s and will take place on October 10th. It is a 5K walk/run, 10K run and Kid’s Dash.  Last year over 1,000 walkers, runners and supporters participated. Visit avdaonline.org for more information.

 

What you can do

October isn’t the only month you can help victims of domestic violence. The first step is being able to recognize someone who is a victim of domestic violence. Cauthen informs, “Recognizing a victim can be difficult depending on the situation and/or types of abuse they may be suffering. It’s easier to get a hint of physical abuse compared to verbal, emotional, or financial abuse but some of the red flags can be embarrassing or putting a victim down; controlling who they see, what they do, or where they go; isolating them from family or friends; destroying their property; threats to harm them or their pets; pressure to use drugs or alcohol; unwarranted fear; or actual unexplained marks, bruises, etc. Domestic violence doesn’t look the same in every relationship but one common thing is the abusive partner does different things to maintain power and control. If someone is worried for someone they know, it is usually warranted. Citizens can help by getting involved in their local shelters- volunteer, donate, etc. and get educated about domestic violence.”

 

History

National Domestic Violence Awareness Month was designed to recognize victims of domestic violence. The Domestic Violence Awareness Project, supported by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, states, “Domestic Violence Awareness Month evolved from the “Day of Unity” held in October 1981 and conceived by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The intent was to connect advocates across the nation, who are working to end violence against women and their children. The Day of Unity soon became an entire week devoted to a range of activities conducted at the local, state, and national level. The activities conducted were as varied and diverse as the program sponsors but had common themes, mourning those who have died because of domestic violence, celebrating those who have survived and connecting those who work to end violence.”

 

Broward and Palm Beach crime report

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement created a crime report for Broward Country. Over the past twenty years total domestic violence related offenses have dropped from mid-eight thousands to low six thousands. According to this report, the latest data displays that per one hundred thousand person population there are approximately three hundred and four domestic violence offenses. In Palm Beach County the domestic violence offenses dropped. In 1995 the offenses numbered around eight thousand and latest data shows they slowly declined to the high four thousands.

For resources on domestic violence in Broward visit www.womenindistress.org. In Palm Beach County visit www.avdaonline.org

 

Gabriella Morris is a homeschool student and writer at Good News. She can be reached gabriellam@goodnewsfl.org

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