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Safety advocates raise awareness of dangers of domestic violence on New Year's Eve

Posted at 8:12 AM, Dec 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-31 12:44:04-05

According to SafetyNet they are the only ones that offer bilingual Spanish groups twice a week in the county for domestic violence victims.

The first day of 2022 is Saturday and staff with HomeSafe's SafetyNet program want to raise awareness on domestic violence during the holidays and New Year's Eve.

The program has been around since 1998 and provides individual and group therapy for victims of domestic violence and their children.

"Sometimes the moms, I say the moms but there are also dads who are victims, they may be wanting to start the new year off right and try to reach out for help, maybe put it on the back burner during the holidays, Thanksgiving through Christmas through the New Years, and finally they say, 'I've had enough, I can't live with this abusive relationship anymore and I want out and I need help,' and help is out there," said Brian McCarey the program supervisor, SafetyNet program at Homesafe.

Staff says the pandemic has played a big role in what's happening behind the scenes.

Many victims have gone unreported and now that COVID-19 restrictions are easing up, they're seeing more calls come in for people in need of help.

"Get help, there is hope, and think about your children. The children are affected in this situation-- they hear, they listen," said Maria Oliver, MSW, a therapist with SafetyNet program "even though they are saying we discuss behind doors, no they listen to everything."

Staff believes due to the pandemic, many people are struggling more financially, and emotionally and social gatherings can add to the pressure.

And mixing alcohol into the equation can escalate what was already a dangerous situation for victims.

"Domestic violence is about power and control, that happens year-round. The drinking brings out the worst in certain people. Some people can drink and have a good time and not be abusive. Other people who are abusive will drink, and become more abusive and use that as an excuse to become more abusive during the holidays," said McCarey.

Staff is now urging everyone who may be out drinking and celebrating to keep an eye out for any signs that someone may be in trouble.

If you or someone you know might a victim, you should call 211 for resources or the Florida Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-500-1119.

You can also contact the SafetyNet program at 561 383-9800 extension 1240.