Palm Beach County, Treasure Coast domestic violence homicide cases reawaken fears for survivors

Investigators confirm at least three cases in days

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- - Diane Duve.

Grace Ann Assenza.

Jessica Exantus.

Three women who lived in different counties, unknown to each other, linked as victims of domestic violence who lost their lives.

In the matter of just a few days, three cases of confirmed domestic homicide surfaced throughout the Palm Beaches and the Treasure Coast.

A brutal reminder for survivors that domestic violence is still a major problem.    

"It's ridiculous and it's sad and most of it is because somebody doesn't want to be with you," said Naomi Breton, a survivor of domestic abuse.
    
While meeting up with her estranged boyfriend in June of 2012, Breton was doused with gasoline and set on fire. Now working in an office in Palm Beach Gardens, Breton knows she is lucky to be alive.

"I am a living testimony and I know I shouldn't be here," said Breton.

In each recent case happening in three different areas they all share one link, a love gone horribly wrong.
    
"That type of passion and wanting to go out and lunge out at that person, it's very tough to predict, very tough to stop," said Captain David Bernhardt with West Palm Beach Police.

Bernhardt said the only effective way to stop domestic violence rests in the hands of victims.

The problem said Palm Beach County state attorney Dave Aronberg is that victims often do not want to come forward. He said when they do, they often refuse to prosecute.

"You only have a drop in cases when people out there report it, once the message gets out there that domestic violence will not be tolerated anymore," said Aronberg. "As long as victims continue to not to want to prosecute these cases, you're going to have perpetrators thinking they can get away with it."

Breton said if victims do not start coming forward and taking the power back, the result will always be the same.

"The casket, six feet under. Children without a parent," said Breton. "That's pretty much the outcome of it."

Aronberg reports 16 people lost their lives due to domestic violence in 2013.


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