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Domestic Violence in Florida Spikes 37-per cent

April 13, 2009

Orlando - As the recession deepens, the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports a 37 percent increase in the demand for emergency services and shelter for victims of domestic violence. The Coalition, meeting this week in Orlando to look at possible solutions, told Florida legislators that domestic violence is increasing and becoming more severe. Additionally, they say, the number of people seeking shelter, food, cash, and counseling in an effort to get out of danger is rising fast.

Dr. Eileen Abel is a professor at University of Central Florida and an expert on intimate partner violence. She says that, while domestic violence is not caused by the recession, bad times aggravate the problem of people feeling they need to control their partners, which can lead to violence.

"As economic times get worse, as pressure gets worse, as there is more stress, as people feel more out of control, the more likely it is going to be that you're going to see more abuse."

Tiffany Carr, executive director of the Coalition, says this has Florida domestic violence centers stretched to the breaking point, and the need may continue to grow.

"What domestic violence centers do in Florida, is they save the lives of women and children. My biggest fear is that without those resources, we would see an enormous increase in domestic violence homicides."

Dr. Eileen Abel says many women feel trapped in abusive relationships because they do not have a job, their partner controls all the money, and they feel they have no place to go. She says domestic violence centers offer women a safe way out, but many blame themselves, and are afraid to take the first step.

"Victims don't deserve to be battered, If you know someone who is being battered, you need to try to help them and not judge them. Try to get them to a safe place, try to get them to a shelter."

The Coalition says that last year, more than 14,500 women and children sought shelter. So far this year, more than 8,000 have already needed a roof over their heads, an 800-person increase over the comparable period in 2008.

More information on the Coalition report is at www.fcadv.org

Gina Presson , Public News Service - FL