Key Initiatives

Women In Distress

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Katrina’s Story

Katrina's StoryHollywood Police Department and Women In Distress have had a long standing partnership in holding batterers accountable and helping survivors of domestic violence. In 2015, HPD took the partnership one step further by creating the Offender Focused Domestic Violence Initiative Program.  It’s the first of its kind in Florida and the goal is to identify the individuals with the most repetitive and violent offenses. They compile the names in a database and try to take action before the offender strikes again.

This program helped identify Katrina’s husband.  

Partnering with Women In Distress’ Intimate Violence Enhanced Service Team (InVEST), the two agencies were able to create a safety plan to help Katrina and her son leave their home.  Together, they arranged for the survivors to meet at a place where Katrina was able to go without her husband.  When the two arrived, they escaped out a back door and into an awaiting HPD cruiser, from there, they were brought Women In Distress.

Katrina and her son stayed with Women In Distress for 8 weeks.  During this time, they received counseling and therapy support, assistance with filing restraining orders, career services support, and a safe place to start rebuilding their lives.   Women In Distress helped Katrina relocate out of state, find an apartment with family, and gain employment.  They also connected them with another domestic violence center so that they may continue on their path from victim to survivor.  

This is just one example of how partnerships save lives.  “Thank You” to all of our law enforcement partners.  You are making a difference every day.

*For the safety of our survivor, names have been changed and stock images used




Women In Distress operates a 24-hour crisis hotline (954-761-1133) that provides crisis intervention, advocacy services, counseling and information on domestic violence. The hotline is staffed by trained advocates and volunteers who focus on helping callers. 

They have operators available to answer calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in 3 languages (English, Spanish, and Creole).

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Thank you for giving me peace

My story started many years ago when I was involved in an abusive relationship. When my abuser hit my son, I was referred to the Women In Distress Outreach program. Women In Distress helped me in so many ways including getting a restraining order and helping me relocate to a new state. I had finally fled my abuser and started to heal. Two years passed and a bang on the door changed my life again. He found me. I was so scared. My landlord called the police and he left. Hours later…I left. I left my life behind. I got on a Greyhound bus with no destination, but ended up back in Florida.

I knew that I would have a safe place at Women In Distress, so I called the Crisis Hotline and was accepted into the shelter. There I found help and hope. When I came to Women In Distress, I did not have day care, food, nor clothing – I had nothing. Women In Distress provided me with everything I needed. The advocates and therapists counseled me and gave me the strength I needed. Women In Distress has given me and my son a lot of peace. I can’t say that my story has ended…it’s only the beginning of getting myself and my son back out into the world. This will be my end to domestic violence because I’ve learned to walk away.

Intervention: The Women In Distress 132-bed shelter provides safe refuge for those fleeing from domestic abuse situations. The shelter is frequently at capacity and often, more than half of the beds are filled with children.

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Their Stories

stories_of_hopeI thought I had it all. I married my husband, we had two beautiful children and we were happy. But this all changed. My husband became an emotionally abusive partner who controlled my every move. My children and I were trapped inside our own home and I felt like there was no escape.

Fortunately, I found Women In Distress when I fled to stay with my sister in South Florida. Over the past year, Women In Distress has helped me get my children back in school, locate an apartment, and find a job. They even furnished our new home thanks to donations from the Women In Distress Thrift Store. My kids and I now attend therapy at Women In Distress and I am constantly amazed by the support we receive as a family. The therapists and counselors at the Outreach Center have provided us with the tools, inspiration, and confidence we need. We grow stronger each and every day.

Advocacy: Women In Distress provides services to children of all ages such as respite care, children’s therapy groups and individual counseling. Parenting classes are also offered to participants.

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Mary’s Story

Marys-Story2Mary Arnold thought her boyfriend, Kyle*, was perfect. He would make dinner every night, help take care of her children, and was always there when she needed support. But their relationship soon took a turn for the worst. He became angry, controlling, and abusive, and arguments would escalate when he would drink.

One night, Mary gave Kyle an ultimatum –to choose her, or the alcohol. He then looked her in the eyes and slowly cracked open a beer. At that moment, Mary realized that she deserved better, and found the courage to leave him after four long years of physical and emotional abuse.

Mary called Women In Distress feeling hopeless and scared, but she now has the strength to pursue her goals. In her therapy sessions, Mary revealed that she struggled with alcohol herself, and that Kyle always said she’d never be sober. But next month, Mary will celebrate six months of sobriety.

Throughout her road to recovery and healing in our shelter, Mary created healthy relationships with everyone around her. She said that Women In Distress never gave up on her and that for the first time in years, she felt loved.

As for Mary’s future, she wants to “give back what was freely given to her” by pursuing a career in social services. She hopes her story will inspire others to get the help they need.

*To protect confidentiality, an alias has been used

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Sarah’s Story

Sarahs-Story2Christmas is always the most special time of year, especially for young children. It’s a time to celebrate family, enjoy the comforts of home, and get lots of presents if Santa thinks you’ve been good. Being part of Women in Distress you can imagine what a hard time I was having trying to convey these ideals to my two and four year old.

After all, I just moved them from the only home they’ve ever known, filled with toys and all their precious things, to a small room we all share.  I had to explain to my children this Christmas that our family has changed because mommy needed to be treated more nicely. Their whole little worlds have changed only a few months ago, but thanks to Women in Distress the joys of presents on Christmas morning remained the same.

The morning my fellow members and I picked up our donated toys was like Christmas just for moms. I literally cried with joy at the generosity of the community around me. My children would know that YES Santa does think they’ve been good this year, and yes the things they left behind were gone but new things would come.

Through the donations given to Women in Distress my children got a Radio Flyer cart, that they are already obsessed with. My daughter got a Barbie and a Lalaloopsie doll (the doll that was in every other commercial leading up to the holidays) and my son got a soccer ball and a puzzle. I got some new books to add to their bedtime reading.

To say that the donors of these gifts made our Christmas is an understatement. I literally could give my children nothing this year, but they did. For Christmas I got to see my children happy and laughing and loving life and this is the best present I could have ever gotten. Thank you again to all of the people who helped make that possible.

*Participant name has been changed to protect confidentiality

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