Editorials

Ravages of domestic violence

MCT

Once again, South Florida is suffering through another cyclical epidemic of domestic violence. A recent el Nuevo Herald series revealed that Miami-Dade has more cases of domestic violence than any other county in Florida, according to state law-enforcement figures. Granted we’re the most populated county. Still, the figures are alarming.

Last year alone, there were 9,811 cases of domestic violence reported in Miami-Dade. The most visible escalated and ended in a woman being killed.

The series concludes that getting abusers into a courtroom and into counseling, or prison requires more detectives assigned to these cases — yes, at a time when money is tight. But it must be done. Breaking the cycle of domestic violence is at stake. It won’t be easy, but the county must look for ways to combat this devastating epidemic by putting more resources to combat it.

The epicenter of all that violence against women and, consequently, their children, appears to be the city of Hialeah. There was plenty of pain and heartache there, where 899 cases were reported in 2014. Those figures reveal an increase of 11 percent over the previous year. Are there more cases of domestic violence or are more being reported? It’s hard to tell.

In any event, the collateral damage of such violence runs deep in our community: murders, broken families, incarcerations, orphaned children, life-long psychological wounds. Worse, the risk of passing the cycle of domestic violence to children.

The explosion of abuse can occur at any time, at the most unexpected moment, with its brutal impact of horror. In recent months alone, women in Miami-Dade have been killed at work, getting into their cars, in their homes. The perpetrators are men who loved them — once.

Alina Carrera, 47, recently separated from her abusive husband, is among the most recent victims. On Sept. 10, Manuel Rodriguez, 56, confronted her in her apartment parking lot and opened fire, killing her. He then shot himself.

The troubling findings of the newspaper’s investigation reveals that the fight against domestic violence is being waged under difficult circumstances and with limited resources.

As detailed in the series, just five years ago the Miami-Dade Police had about 30 detectives assigned to investigate domestic violence cases.

Now, because of budget cuts, only a team of 12 detectives must solve the huge volume of reported cases, which number in the thousands.

More troubling are the episodes of domestic violence that go unreported, happening within four walls, and staying there. Some women won’t report violence against them for a variety of reasons. They absorb the blows in silence because they’re financially dependent on the abuser, or because there are children involved, or in the case of undocumented women, fear of being deported.

What can be done to curb this plague of brutality that so often makes headlines here?

As Detective Jennifer Capote, told el Nuevo Herald: We must “reinforce preventive measures, such as awareness campaigns on a phenomenon that is growing and is complicated.”

Hopefully, the increase in reporting is a sign that women are calling 911 more often.

Fortunately, once abusers enter the criminal-justice system, they are vigorously prosecuted by the office of Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, a pioneer in getting domestic abuse to be treated as a felony in the state.

“We are deeply committed to prosecution and intervention of domestic violence cases,” SAO spokesman Ed Griffith told the Editorial Board. “We have not backed down at all.”

That’s good news, because, as Mr. Griffith said, his office is well aware that abusers never stop — unless, and only when, authorities intervene.

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