Pinellas County Domestic Violence Task Force members are alarmed by the number of domestic violence-related homicide cases this year.  All ready this year, there have been seven domestic violence-related homicides, which is one more than in all of 2011.  This alarming raise in numbers of domestic violence-related homicides isn’t just occurring in Pinellas County, but other Florida counties, as well.

The spokeswoman with the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Leisa Wiseman, said that her agency has been monitoring the spike in the number of domestic-related homicides, stalking and other violent behavior across the state since 2009.  Members are not sure why numbers have risen, but suspect economic reasons, such as unemployment or foreclosure, or substance abuse, might be playing a role.

The task force is very concerned about another recently discovered statistic; in 69 percent of the 103 cases, loved ones knew about the violence within the relationship, but remained silent.  Frieda Widera, a victim advocate, said that advocates realize some friends and relatives do not want to become involved for fear of retaliation, but stressed that there are safe ways to intervene in a domestic violence relationship.  She stated that “the only way we are going to end domestic homicide is if friends and family and co-workers and neighbors know how to recognize it and intervene.”

Victim advocates state getting help from support groups, shelters and counselors to file restraining orders and create safety plans can greatly reduce the chance of a fatality.  In 89 percent of local domestic fatalities studied by the task force, victims of domestic homicides never had contact with the local domestic violence centers.  Advocates stated this was either because of denial, embarrassment, fear or a lack of knowledge that the centers and resources were available.

Domestic violence destroys families, threatens the well-being of spouses and children, and should not be taken lightly.  If you believe that you or your children may become a victim of domestic violence, immediately contact an experienced domestic violence attorney.