Women In Distress



I was pregnant with my second child and so excited to be having the first girl of the family. Then one night my husband picked up the big screen TV and threw it at me. It wasn’t the first time he was abusive. I had been called names and threatened before, but I was in shock that he would try to hurt me while I was pregnant.

I was alone. My family was on the other side of the world.

When I contacted the police, they gave me a card with information about Women In Distress. An Outreach Advocate helped me file a restraining order against my abuser. Shortly thereafter, my son and I became homeless.

That’s how I ended up at Women In Distress.

At first, I cried every night. I felt scared, frustrated and alone. No one spoke my language, and I knew that my stay in the emergency shelter was temporary. I lay awake thinking about where my son and I would go when our time ran out. There was no time to think about getting baby supplies. There was only time to think about running from my abuser and keeping myself, my son, and my unborn baby safe.

Women In Distress became my family. My advocate understood my culture. And I understood that
Women In Distress wanted what was best for me. They eased my fears and extended our stay. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t have to worry about being abused.

My life has changed because of Women In Distress.

While at Women In Distress, I gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby girl. My advocate helped to expedite getting my work permit and I started searching for a job. My son started school, and I got the baby supplies I needed. And I was finally able to get insurance for my family.

My son’s life has changed too. He’s gained so much self-confidence. He tells me all the time now that he loves me, and he is the best big brother.

I’m preparing to be on my own.

I’ve just gotten my driver’s license. I filed for divorce from my abuser. And I’m starting the next chapter of my life.

Because of Women In Distress, I have hope that my son will grow into a healthy young man. He will know that he matters. I will teach my daughter that she is too valuable to let anyone ever abuse her.
I am forever grateful.

— Renee*

With your past support of Women In Distress, you’ve given many families and children the hope of a future without violence. This year marks Women In Distress 45th year of providing critical, life-saving programs and services to domestic violence survivors. For more than four decades we have been a lifeline for young mothers like Renee, and so many families just like hers. Remember it’s because of donors like you that we can provide critical, life-saving programs and services to empower survivors with the tools and confidence they need to strive for a hopeful future.

To support families like Renee’s*, please click here.

To review our 2019 Annual Impact Report, please click here.

*In an effort to protect the privacy of our families, names were changed and stock images used.

Deadly End to Summer for Two South Florida Families

A Message from Mary Riedel

The Need for Domestic Violence Awareness is Now

A warm, end-of-summer weekend in August turned deadly in two separate domestic violence murders that shook our community. In Coconut Creek, a mother and her college-student daughter were murdered in their home. Two other people were injured – a police officer responding to the call and a young man visiting his girlfriend. In Pembroke Pines, a three-year-old girl was murdered along with her mother and grandmother by her father who then killed himself.  Her twin sister was spared but lost a family.

These tragic and violent acts once again put the issue of domestic violence (DV) on the front page of our newspapers and lead the news on local television stations. Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) 2018 recently released report, Broward County saw 15 domestic violence murders, part of the 196 DV murders statewide. There were more than 5,300 DV cases in Broward County last year. These numbers, sadly, are just the tip of a very deadly iceberg that continues to terrorize our children, our families and our community.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM).  The goal is to raise awareness about the signs of domestic violence and the resources that are available to combat this terrible cycle of partner and family violence. It’s not just today or this month. The work continues each minute of every day because that is when violence is occurring in homes, workplaces, schools – out in the open and also behind closed doors.

Working with many community partners – law enforcement, the courts, human service and health providers, schools, elected officials and public and private funders – Women In Distress of Broward County has its mission to stop abuse for everyone through intervention, education and advocacy.

Women In Distress has been engaged in this work for 45 years. Of the 42 certified domestic violence centers here in the state of Florida, Women In Distress (WID) is now the largest and has among the most comprehensive programs to meet the critical needs of survivors of domestic violence and their children.  All services are free and confidential – provided in multiple languages to serve our diverse community.

We are fortunate to have a very strong public policy and advocacy group – the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV) –  that helps support the work of Women In Distress and other domestic violence centers serving all 67 counties in the state.

Women In Distress will serve more than 4,000 adults and children this year, provide more than 30,000 emergency shelter nights, answer more than 26,000 calls to its 24-Hour Crisis Line and provide thousands of hours of advocacy, therapy and legal guidance on getting injunctions-for-protection (restraining orders).  Empowerment programs will help provide a foundation for survivors to successfully return to work or school to get the training they need to move on with their lives free of the abusers, free of violence.

It is only because of our strong partnerships and support across the community that we are able to continue this work. Through domestic violence educational programs in the schools, workplaces and community events, our Education & Prevention team touches more than 20,000 people – many of those children and young teens – to let them know that love should not hurt.

Breaking the cycle of domestic violence begins with greater awareness.  Domestic violence crosses all boundaries of culture, age, race, sex, education and socioeconomic status.  Ten million women and men are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner every year. One in four women and one in nine men in the US will experience intimate partner violence. Nationwide, domestic violence centers will receive 20,000 calls on a typical day. Fifteen million children are exposed to domestic violence each year and many will be destined to repeat the cycle if there is no early intervention.

We are making progress but the issue continues to grow – stalking, dating violence, repeated and escalating assaults, cybercrimes, bullying, human trafficking, financial, verbal, emotional and sexual abuse – are all part of the problem.

To those who are joining us in the mission, the survivors and their children here at Women In Distress say: “Thank you. You saved our lives.”

To the lives that we were not able to save like those this summer in Coconut Creek and Pembroke Pines, we must pledge to do more.

To those who want to learn more, now is the time. Reach out and learn more at If you or someone you know needs help, the Crisis Line number is 954-761-1133. The state hotline is 1-800-500-1119.

For a listing of Domestic Violence Awareness Month events, click here.