By: Marilyn Fizer March, Executive Director, The Women’s Fund of Miami-Dade
Domestic violence is too often a crime that disrupts the feeling of security in a family and destroys the bonds of trust that one’s closest family members will always keep them safe from harm. Too many children in Miami-Dade grow up lacking the basic sense that their homes are a safe and nurturing place. A challenge for case managers and care givers with such victimized children is to keep them from becoming violent in their homes as they mature: too many do.
The responses to domestic violence, including law enforcement, the judicial system, and social services consume enormous resources. The costs of incarceration for those convicted of domestic violence related offenses are high. Children pay the price over and over again as they face family separation with placement in the foster care system or remain in violence-ridden homes leaving the experts to puzzle over which alternative is the best choice.
Recent events in the news, including the number of young children whose lives have been lost despite DCF involvement with their families and recent protests asking for a pardon of Marissa Alexander, underscore the damage done from domestic violence. Marissa is a young mother who has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot to scare away her abusive husband. These situations have sparked discussions around the laws and policies that govern the way our society addresses the needs of families in crisis.
Since 1993, The Women’s Fund of Miami-Dade has been working on behalf of women and girls in our community. Freedom from violence continues to be one of our core issues and we are proud to support a number of organizations, which provide domestic violence prevention programs and assistance to domestic violence victims. These organizations concentrate on turning victims into survivors and in many cases advocates. We are proud of this work and of the commitment that our volunteers, grantee partners, board members, staff and supporters have shown.
However, in 2012, there were over 9,800 reported incidents of domestic violence in Miami-Dade. As long as there are women and girls living in fear, our work is not done.
We encourage our community to learn more about this issue and to further the debate as to the best solutions to this age-old problem. We encourage victims and those who know them to reach out to us or to one of the many fine organizations we support that provide assistance, shelter and protection to victims and survivors. If we work together, we can realize our vision and create a just and safe Miami-Dade, where power and possibility are not limited by gender.
The Women’s Fund of Miami-Dade is a go-to resource for information about this issue, as well as our other impact areas, including leadership development, healthcare and reproductive justice and economic security and equity. Please visit our website www.womensfundmiami.org, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. You can call us at 305-441-0506 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.