The city of Kissimmee offers many different crime prevention programs that are open to the public. Some programs are court enforced and others are used as educational purposes for students in hopes to deter criminal activity. There are also crime prevention programs that are geared towards victims. One program that really stands out to me is The Domestic Violence program that is sponsored by the Florida Department of Children and Families. It is very hard for a victim of domestic violence to speak out and get help. It is even harder for a victim of domestic violence to avoid a repeat relationship that is full of violence. I know this because; I am a survivor of domestic violence.
The Domestic Violence program is an outreach program that strives on the mission to “ensure the safety of victims of domestic violence by developing partnerships with community organizations to create a seamless system of services.” (Department of Children and Families, 2014) The program is funded by the state and the federal government is used as prevention and an intervention program for men, women, and children that fall victim to this crime. The program also responds to dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking crimes. The State of Florida reports that domestic violence includes crimes such as murder, manslaughter, forcible rape, forcible sodomy, forcible fondling, aggravated assault, aggravated stalking, simple assault, simple stalking, and threat or intimidation. Without help victims put themselves at a severe risk.
Centers are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Services that are provided at the centers include “emergency shelter, 24-hour crisis and information hotline, safety planning, counseling, case management, child assessments, information and referrals, education for community awareness, and training for law enforcement and other professionals.” (Department of Children and Families, 2014)
Calls to the center are kept confidential if requested within means. If it is recorded that a child is victim or has witnessed the violence a full report must be filed immediately and the child and the victim must be removed from the abuser. Victim’s that seek refuge at the centers are also eligible for free legal counsel and court advocacy, transportation, relocation services, and daycare. This program is designed to intervene, educate, prevent, and help a victim start a new life free of violence.
This program has been successful in its efforts. Statistics show “in 2010, 113,378 crimes of domestic violence were reported to Florida law enforcement agencies resulting in 67,810 arrests.” (FCADV, 2014) However the downfall to this program is that not all victims are reporting the abuse or their abusers, nor are they reaching out for help. The reasons are many; fear, shame, guilt, or they can also be held against their will by the abuser. The first step to getting help in this situation is to remove you from the abusers reach. It is not easy to walk away from your abuser, especially if it is someone you love. As a victim I lied to my family and many times to the cops about my bruises and the abuse. It took an intervention and counseling which this program provides to the victim in need. The downfall to this program is that the victim must seek the help. There are no officers that will drag the victim from harm’s way and into the arms of people that care and want to help you. There is absolutely no advertising for this program, no public knowledge that this program exists. I had never heard of it till I started to research for this paper. I think if more women were aware of what the Department of Children and Families offers through the Domestic Violence Program more and more victims would start to come out of the wood works.
Victims may also be shied away because this program is headed by DCF. DCF has a reputation of being the agency that removes children from their homes and the loving arms of his/her parents. A victim may be worrisome of coming forward and losing her children.
The Domestic Violence program also heads off the Batterer Prevention Program and provides education resources for batterers. This program holds batterers for their violence, and provides the necessary tools and resources that will enable them to have nonviolent relationships.
I think the programs that are provided are rich in resources and provide a great opportunity for victims that want the help. I think they lack in presence and public knowledge. It would be nice for the Department of Children and Families to get more involved within the community and inform the public of its offerings. Ways to provide this information to the public would include; pamphlets sent home with children from school, community resource fairs, and through law enforcement agencies.
Although statistics show “in 2011 overall domestic violence offenses in Florida decreased by 1.5 percent, base on crime reports published by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement,” (ATrain Education, 2014) the numbers are still quite high. This is an issue that will continue to grow in quiet numbers due to the nature of the crime.
ATrain Education. (n.d.). Domestic Violence in Florida. Retrieved June 27, 2014, from https://www.atrainceu.com/course-module/1617258-101_florida-domestic-violence-module-4
Florida’s Domestic Violence Statistics. (n.d.). Home. Retrieved June 27, 2014, from http://www.fcadv.org/floridas-domestic-violence-statistics
Domestic Violence. (n.d.). Home. Retrieved June 28, 2014, from http://www.myflfamilies.com/service-programs/domestic-violence