In July 2004, Inweekly reported on the rise of domestic violence in the cover story “The Ugly Face of Domestic Violence.” Escambia County had eight murders tied to domestic violence, and its rate of domestic violence per 100,000 population, 730.4, ranked 23rd in the state.
In March 2009, we hit the subject hard again with “The Domestic Violence Epidemic.” By the end of that year, Escambia County had half as many murders tied to domestic violence, but its rate of domestic violence jumped up to 868.1, moving it to seventh in the state.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement hasn’t released its 2016 annual crime report, but Escambia County jumped up to the second spot in 2015 with a rate of 1,028.9 and five murders.
While the state’s average rate has decreased, Escambia County has raced to the top as one of the worse communities in Florida for domestic violence, and the costs to this community continue to mount.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has found a link between exposure to domestic violence and poor school performance. Children who grow up with domestic violence may have an impaired ability to concentrate, difficulty in completing school work, and lower scores on measures of verbal, motor, and social skills.
They may learn that it is acceptable to exert control or relieve stress by using violence, or they may associate violence with expressions of intimacy and affection. Law enforcement officials have shared they often find a history of domestic violence in the pasts of the young adults and juveniles they arrest, particularly among the most violent ones.
FavorHouse of Northwest Florida tries to be the difference maker by providing shelter, counseling, education, and prevention programs for victims and their families in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. The non-profit operates a 24-hour crisis line and shelter. They pick up women and children from terrible environments and carry them to a secure, safe place.
Their van is ancient. The shelter must expand to handle the 40-percent increase in domestic violence. Both the van and building are worn out. The challenge is FavorHouse depends solely on donations, and that’s where you can help.
Its biggest fundraiser, the White Rose Luncheon, occurs on May 18 at 11:30 a.m. at the Corrine Jones Community Center. Please consider buying tickets or sponsoring a table by contacting Sue Hand at email@example.com or call 434-1177.
The need has never been greater. Escambia County must reverse this horrible trend, and FavorHouse is our best hope to do so.