OCTOBER IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH

It is disheartening to know that each day three women are killed in the United States by boyfriends or husbands. When brutality includes family members or people involved in a relationship, it is termed as "domestic violence." It goes without saying that any violent crime is unacceptable, but when crimes are committed by a family member or person of trust, it is especially disturbing. All forms of such abuse have one purpose – to gain and maintain total control over the victim.

Until recent years, domestic violence was considered a private family matter. I am proud to say that is no longer the case – especially in the eyes of law enforcement. Last year alone, the Broward Sheriff's Office responded to more than 15,000 calls for service that were domestic-violence related. Of those calls, nearly 2,000 arrests were made. Sadly, 29 women were murdered in Broward County in 2009 and of those murdered, 18 were domestic related. The Broward Sheriff's Office and Women in Distress of Broward County are committed to stopping this violent trend against women, but we need your help.

Women in Distress of Broward County relies on volunteers and donations. They operate a 62-bed, 24-hour emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence and their children. In addition, Women in Distress offers valuable job and life-skills training, self esteem groups, therapy and advocacy. In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, more than 1,200 individuals will walk or run in the 12th Annual Women in Distress SAFEWALK-RUN 5K on Saturday, October 30, 2010. You can participate, donate or volunteer by visiting www.womeindistress.org or calling 954.760.9800.

There is no reason to accept or tolerate violent behavior from a spouse or domestic partner – there is help out there. If you are a victim of domestic violence, I encourage you to do the following:

  • Leave your home immediately. You can call the Women in Distress crisis hotline at 954.761.1133 for emergency assistance.
  • If you are injured by an abuser, call 911 and seek medical attention right away. Document your injuries so you can take legal action against your abuser.
  • Florida law enables you to file for an order of protection or a restraining order. To file for an order of protection or restraining order, you must go to the Broward County Courthouse (located at 201 S.E. 6th Street, Room 248 in Fort Lauderdale).
  • Let your employer, neighbors, close friends and family members know if you have a restraining order or an order of protection. If they see the abuser, they will know to call 911 immediately.
  • Visit www.sheriff.org and click on the Victim Services tab for additional resources, information and links to organizations that can assist with support and counseling.


BSO's Victim Services Unit employs specially-trained detectives to detect abusers that may victimize children, spouses, elders or the disabled. The unit also provides support and assistance to victims of domestic violence. BSO offers a free Domestic Violence Emergency Cell Phone program, which provides a lifeline to emergency services. For more information about BSO's cell phone program or if you need assistance from the Victim Services Unit, please call 954.321.4200.

In the long run, curbing violence in the home benefits every one of us because peaceful families make for peaceful communities.

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