Women In Distress Starfish Luncheon Raises More Than $317,000 to Help Families Affected by Domestic Violence

Women In Distress

“I learned that I don’t have to put up with abuse.”

That’s what Amelia*, one of the teens participating in our Teen Dating Violence Awareness classes taught by Women In Distress Education Specialists, said. It seems like an obvious statement, but that’s not necessarily the case.

Nearly 1.5 million teens in the United States experience physical abuse from a dating partner during the year. That’s according to the Centers for Disease Control who has labeled teen dating violence a public health issue. Teen dating violence is so prevalent that the quality of life for many teens is disproportionately affected. There is overwhelming evidence that this issue can be prevented, but many times preventative measures are not in place.

The seriousness of teen dating violence hits home when we hear stories like Jessica’s*. Her 15 year old boyfriend threatened her within an inch of her life for wearing something he didn’t like to school one day. The abuse got much worse, and became physical before she finally decided to leave, eight years later. It hits even closer to home when we hear stories like the 16 year old teen in Maryland, who broke up with her boyfriend and didn’t come home from school the next day because her ex-boyfriend was so enraged that he took his father’s gun to school and fatally shot her.  As a matter of fact, numerous news stories point out that teen dating violence can be an indicator of gun violence and even those who are not a part of the relationship can get caught in the cross fire.

That’s where Women In Distress comes in. In the spirit of prevention, our Teen Dating Violence Awareness classes empower teens to recognize the beginnings of abusive behavior. It also makes them aware of the resources they need to exit abusive relationships safely. Teens attend classes free of charge. And, just like Amelia* our participants learn that they don’t have put up with abuse.

As we spread the word to teens in middle and high school students throughout Broward County we’re fulfilling our mission of stopping domestic violence abuse for everyone through intervention, education and advocacy.

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

 

Holidays, Children, and Domestic Violence

Women In Distress experiences a spike in calls for help during the holiday season. What often gets lost in the shuffle are the children. An estimated 15.5 million children in the United States live in families where they have witnessed domestic violence at least once in a year, and seven million children live in families in which severe partner violence has occurred. 

Children exposed to family violence often suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, are at a greater risk for medical issues than their peers, and have an increased risk of aggressive, anxious, depressed or hyperactive behavior.

In Broward County and South Florida, Women In Distress is the support system for domestic violence abuse survivors and their children and provides all services to survivors and their children at no charge.

As the only nationally accredited, state-certified, full service domestic violence center serving Broward County and South Florida, the center provides programs for children of domestic violence survivors such as family therapy for infants and toddlers to help with issues like extreme tantrums, play and art therapy to help children solve problems without violence, and education and outreach where children learn what a healthy relationship looks like.

If you suspect a child or family is experiencing domestic violence abuse, discreetly pass along our 24-Hour Crisis Hotline information so the survivor can safely secure services for themselves and their children. The Crisis Hotline can be reached any time of day or night at 954-761-1133.