Domestic violence on the rise in Palm Beach County

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - It has played out last month in the form of a deadly shooting in Suburban West Palm Beach and even more recently, days ago at a Boynton Beach gas station when a woman was set on fire.

These incidents join a list of alleged domestic violence cases that experts say is growing.

"It was like a war-zone, like a prison. I was just, no contact with other people. He didn't want me to stay in touch with friends and I never knew what will happen. Every day was fear," said a recent victim of domestic violence who remains anonymous for her safety.

This victim said the violence started when her then husband could not hold a job and used what little money the family had on himself, turning to drugs. Her breaking point was when her daughter nearly lost her life after accidentally swallowing her father's illegal pills.

"That accident shows clearly that was a warning for me. I was shocked. I thought maybe I could protect them. But it was clear I cannot," said the victim who is now considered a survivor.

This woman now joins a growing list of domestic violence victims. The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office reports more than a 10% jump in calls in the last three years.

Law enforcement agencies are not the only ones seeing an increase in domestic violence. From July 2009 to July 2010, the YWCA sheltered 446 victims. The next year, 555 victims needing to be sheltered.  

"The number one factor was the economy and the way the economy tanked so to speak. So there were people that wouldn't typically reach out for services, reaching out," said Mary Cauthen, YWCA advocate.

Cauthen said the increase also means more victims know there is help out there and are seeking it.

At the Palm Beach County courthouse, clerk and comptroller Sharon Bock said requests for restraining orders are flat, but criminal cases are up.

"It could be that they wait until something violent happens, call the police, then the police treat it as a criminal matter," said Bock

The woman who survived said she too waited, but hopes others do not.

"Don't let your abuser break you completely, especially if you have kids. You have to fight, you have to stay strong for your kids because they need you," said the victim and survivor.

It is a difficult step but one the survivor said saved her life.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments