Group raises awareness about domestic violence PDF Print E-mail
Written by TRACY-ANN TAYLOR   
Friday, 05 October 2007
Vaness SaffoldVanessa Saffold remembers a time when she felt powerless.

During her first year of high school, a good-looking, charismatic, and popular guy at school started to show interest in her. She was extremely flattered because she had acne and low self-esteem.

“For me the abuse started mentally. He told me I was ugly. I was too black. No one would want to be with me and that he was the only one that cared about me. He cared for me more than my parents, more than my friends. And I believed every single thing he said,” said Saffold, 43, of Hallandale Beach.

After graduating from high school, he joined the armed forces but was still able to control her mentally even though he was 1,200 miles away.

During her first year in college, Saffold secretly married him against her parents’ wishes and then moved to Louisiana, where he was stationed. Isolated from her friends and family, Saffold said the abuse turned physical.

Domestic violence is devastating to those who fall victim. To raise the public’s awareness and create a society intolerant of abuse, Women In Distress of Broward County is joining other groups across the country in recognizing October as national Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Throughout the month, Women In Distress is hosting numerous events.

Tonight at 6 p.m. Denise Brown, older sister of the late Nicole Brown Simpson, who was found murdered with her friend, Ronald Goldman, will host a reception and dinner in Fort Lauderdale.

Marcia Barry-Smith, a spokesperson for Women In Distress, will reach out to Broward’s black communities by preaching sermons about domestic violence at churches throughout the month.

An exhibit on domestic violence titled, The Silent Witness, will run throughout the month at the Broward County Main Library, 100 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale. The exhibit features red silhouettes of people from Broward who lost their lives in the past year as a result of domestic violence.

A memorial will also be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 18 at the Broward Main Library.

Domestic violence is on the rise in Broward.

As many as 8,230 cases of domestic violence were filed in 2005, said Jane Duff, manager of domestic violence at the office of the Broward County Clerk of Courts. In 2006, that number increased to 8,379. With almost three months left in 2007, so far the number of reported cases stands at 6,913.

Last year, 14 Broward County residents lost their lives to domestic violence, but only one in ten incidents is reported to police, said Laura Finley, director of social change at Women In Distress of Broward.

“The warning signs to look for when dating, is someone who is overly possessive or critical,” Saffold said.

“Abuse doesn’t have to be physical. It can be verbal and emotional with constant name-calling, insults, isolation from friends and family, stalking, intimidation, silence or sexual coercion against your will,” Saffold read from a Women In Distress handout.

After seven years and multiple injuries, Saffold realized love was not supposed to hurt like that. Summoning what strength she had, she fled to the safety of a shelter, running desperately from the man who threatened to take away her spirit, her freedom and her life.

She later filed for divorce and, in 1996, left her past behind and moved from Chicago to Florida. She has lived in Hallandale Beach for five years, where she enjoys going to the beach and watching the sun rise.

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Photo by Elgin Jones. Vanessa Saffold


Domestic Violence Awareness Month events

When and where:
Today, Friday, Oct. 5 -- Howard C. Forman Clerk of the Courts & the Domestic Violence Division host  “Be Aware” at the Broward County Courthouse, 201 S. E. 6th Street, Fort Lauderdale,  11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jury Room 380. Enjoy a light lunch and learn important information. RSVP to Jane Duff at 954-831-5575. Free.

Tonight, Friday, Oct. 5 – Third annual WIDA Ticket to the Orient Gala. Bahia Mar Hotel, 801 Seabreeze Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale at 6 p.m. Special guest: Denise Brown. Reception, Silent & Live Auction, Dinner & Dancing. Contact 954-547-4307. Tickets: $175.

Oct. 6 -- The ninth annual SafeWalk 5k Run at Markham Park, 16001 West State Road 84  in Sunrise. $20 entry fee ($25 day of event). 6:30 a.m. registration, 7:30 a.m. race/walk starts. Call 954-760-9800 ext. 1254.

Oct. 10 -- Domestic Violence and Abuse Later in Life. Learn about the services available to help you at 10 a.m-12 p.m. Hallandale Beach Library, 300 S. Federal Highway in
Hallandale Beach.  For more information, call Jill Fogel, victim advocate, Hallandale Beach police, at 954-457-1431.

For information on more events throughout the month or to learn more about domestic violence, please contact Women In Distress at 954-760-9800 or visit www.womenindistress.org

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