During the 2019-2020 fiscal year, Beacon Center saw an increase in survivors accessing services. Our shelter facility served 323 adults and 209 children while decreasing our median stay from 70 days to 45 days. Our re-entry rate into the shelter remains less than 1%. Outreach services also saw an increase from 461 individuals last year to 668 individuals this year. Criminal reports of domestic violence remained relatively consistent over the last year showing a small decrease in reporting but Volusia County remains 6th highest in the State of Florida for rates per 100,000 individuals and 10th in the State for reported incidents of domestic violence related crimes. There were 7 domestic violence related homicides in Volusia County this year and homicides have increased every year since 2016.
The decrease in reporting of these crimes, combined with the increase in domestic violence services and an increase in domestic homicide is interesting data that speaks to our overall community coordinated response. What happens to a survivor of domestic violence who calls the police, files an injunction or becomes involved in the child welfare system? What happens to the perpetrator, the intimate partner of the survivor, the father of the children?
Providing quality services to survivors of intimate partner violence in our community is imperative but it is not enough to solve this issue. If we focus our efforts to reduce homicide and incidents of DV related crimes by solely providing services for survivors we are doing the equivalent of assigning victims of drunk drivers to a defensive driving class. This does not solve the problem.
Albert Einstein said “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.” Now, while there are some varying versions of this quote out there, the truth behind the quote is this: The quality of the solution is in direct proportion to the ability to identify the problem one wants to solve.
While we know violence in the home is a problem we want to solve, identifying the challenges to preventing and responding to violence in the home is the conversation we must continue to have. It is time for us – the concerned citizens, the business leaders, the community leaders, the social services providers, the criminal justice system, the advocates and the families, to take a critical look at the crimes associated with violence in the home and develop a coordinated community response. We have to start honest conversations to identify the challenges to accountability, increase our critical awareness of these crimes and educate the community, systems, families, churches, and schools about how to confront such crimes in a meaningful way with a goal of safety and justice. This crime has devastating impacts on the most valuable assets of our community: the individuals. The families and the children that make up our community. We aren’t just trying to create a better response to intimate partner violence; we are trying to end a generational curse that has effected so many.
As an empowerment based organization we believe empowerment is the discovery and development of one’s inherent capacity to be responsible for one’s own life. We are rooted in this model to provide survivors with autonomy and freedom of choice.
Perpetrators of domestic violence slowly and systematically dismantle the survivor’s efforts to maintain their personal power. Often when survivors reach out for help the first time they have already endured years of emotional and psychological abuse, isolation, and financial control. They have learned from their abuser that they don’t make appropriate and safe decisions. Unfortunately, the overall system response to survivors reinforces this message instead of encouraging their personal power.
Empowerment-based models are built on the foundational belief that we should provide survivors the knowledge to make safe and appropriate choices, provide them the control and resources to put those choices to actions, and provide the space and experience to evaluate the effectiveness of those choices. In doing this we place personal power back in the hands of the survivor to protect herself and her children.
Beacon Center is just one piece of the pie that is the community response to domestic violence. We are here to partner with a survivor who has been isolated and alone in her nightmare. We are here to speak the truth in love to survivors struggling within their relationships. We are here to provide them a safe place to process what has happened to them and think through their choices.
We are here to love and care about families and children.
We hope that you will join us by practicing and reinforcing our theme this year “Let’s talk about it” to break the silence that fuels the pervasive nature of this crime. Help us by wrapping around families in need of safety and security. Help us to continue lighting the way to safe futures for all the survivors you touch in the upcoming year.
On October 26th we will be gathering at ONE Daytona to take a group photograph for our last Purple Monday Initiative Awareness activity. Join us at Victory Circle at 8:30 am to be ready for the group picture that will be taken before 9:30 am. This photo will feature area leaders and influencers wearing purple in honor of survivors for Domestic Violence Awareness Month which is celebrated in October each year. This year our theme is “Let’s Talk About it” and we hope you will join us to starting a longer conversation about this crime and what we can do as a community to change the lives of the families impacted. After all, it’s a community issue—NOT a home issue.