Serene Harbor Supports Domestic Violence Victims
By Maria Sonnenberg // November 7, 2013
2013 CENTRAL FLORIDA HUMANITARIANS
ABOVE VIDEO: The monumental task of breaking the chains of domestic violence through safe shelter, social change, education and empowerment is the mission of Serene Harbor.
For victims of domestic violence, Serene Harbor is just that: a safe haven where broken lives are safe while being repaired.
Domestic violence knows no socio-economic boundaries and can strike anyone, regardless of age, race and economic status.
One in four women will suffer incidents of domestic violence and each year an estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by their partners.
“Making the decision to leave an abusive situation takes great courage,” said Melody Keeth, executive director at Serene Harbor.
“They don’t know where they are going or what to expect when they get there, they just know they must get out of their current situation in order to survive. Before coming to Serene Harbor, most of these families are scared and alone and just trying to survive.
The monumental task of breaking the chains of domestic violence through safe shelter, social change, education and empowerment is the mission of Serene Harbor.
“They are humiliated and ashamed of the position they found themselves in. In most cases, they express guilt and apologize for needing our services. They are worried about a multitude of things, where will they live, how will they get their basic needs met, how do they move on from here, what comes next and what does their future look like.”
The monumental task of breaking the chains of domestic violence through safe shelter, social change, education and empowerment is the mission of Serene Harbor, the Brevard nonprofit that since 1992 has provided emergency shelters and support service to women and children. For the more than 23,000 individuals assisted, Serene Harbor has been a lifeline.
NEED AT ALL TIME HIGH
Every year, more than 1,000 women and their children enter Serene Harbor’s safe and nurturing environment, where abused, battered women gain – often for the first time in their lives – hope and opportunity…and a life for their families that is free from fear and violence.
Through shelter, outreach, education and a 24-hour emergency hotline, Serene Harbor empowers victims to make healthy choices for themselves and their families.
In addition to shelter, Serene Harbor also offers case management services to help clients rebuild their lives. Serene Harbor’s children’s advocacy staff provides supportive services intended to counteract the negative effects of domestic violence on young victims.
Domestic violence is a serious problem in all communities, and Brevard is no exception.
“Last year, right here in Brevard, law enforcement reported 4,064 domestic violence crimes, an annual increase of 236,” said Keeth.
“That means that more than 11 family violence offences are reported to law enforcement each day. It is estimated that only a third of all incidences get reported, so we can assume that number is much higher and that approximately 33 occurred in Brevard every single day.”
As Keeth points out, the numbers are staggering, as are the consequences for the victims and their children.
Need is at an all-time high, with 4,613 nights of shelter provided last year, an increase of 23 percent from the previous year.
“Our shelter and outreach programs give these families the support and courage they need to break the cycle of violence that has plagued their lives, in some cases for decades,” said Keeth.
“All the services we provide are designed to help a family make the journey from victim to survivor. Our services restore their faith in others and help them to again believe they are worthy of good things and a good life.”
ABOUT THE 2013 CENTRAL FLORIDA HUMANITARIAN AWARDS
The Central Florida Humanitarian Awards were created to recognize outstanding individuals and organizations that dedicate their Time, Talent or Treasure to help people in need locally – and around the world.
This year, more than 30 deserving humanitarians will be honored during the Gala, which will be held Thursday, Nov. 7 at the Hilton Melbourne Rialto Place, with the festivities beginning at 6 p.m.
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“We remain firmly committed to identifying and telling those stories and providing a timely media platform to recognize Space Coast and Central Florida residents’ altruistic contributions on a regular basis in our magazines, as well as SpaceCoastDaily.com,” said Dr. Palermo.
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