The center is hosting two events in October in recognition of National Domestic Violence Awareness month.
For over four decades, the Beacon Center in Volusia County has been lighting the way for victims of domestic violence.
Formerly known as the Domestic Abuse Council until its 2017 rebranding, the organization has served 465 women, men and children, both in-shelter and through its outreach, in six months from July 2018 to February 2019 — more than it served from July 2017 to June 2018.
Chief Executive Officer Angie Pye said it's proof of the effort the center has put in toward its outreach. Aside form basic core services, like running an emergency shelter, providing counseling, case management and support groups, the Beacon Center has also increased its advocates (including Spanish-speakers), attorneys and amount of financial literacy aid, such as helping victims search for jobs, learn how to write resumes and find housing.
With October being National Domestic Violence Awareness month, Pye said it's important to remember domestic abuse is a crime that touches all in some way. She herself is a survivor, having grown up in an abusive household, and she hopes the community will come together to take a stand against abuse.
“We see domestic violence as an oppressive crime," Pye said. "It’s a hate crime, essentially. It’s a crime that’s rooted in sexism.”
This means, it generally impacts the female population, Pye said. In 2018, there were 4,328 reported cases of domestic violence in Volusia County, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Ormond Beach ranked fourth in the county with 248 cases reported to
Ormond Beach Police. Volusia County Sheriff's Office was first, with 1,564 cases, followed by Daytona Beach Police with 1,389 cases. DeLand Police reported 294.
People have a hard time understanding domestic violence, Pye said. In her 23 years of working with survivors, she's always asked: "Why do women stay?"
That's the wrong question, she said, and that people should be asking instead "Why are the perpetrators reoffending, and why they think they can harm their partner and children?"
Pye said a system needs to be built that focus around the choices a perpetrator makes to commit the abuse. It's true that victims sometimes don't want to press charges or prosecute, she added. They may be worried about what happens if the perpetrator doesn't go to jail.
“The survivors tend to think about their safest choice, and sometimes their safest choice, is not participating in prosecution," Pye said.
At the Beacon Center, their main goals are safety and justice, she said. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that, in Florida, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. With numbers like that, Pye said everybody knows someone who is in an abusive relationship, even if they're not aware of it.
“If the Wawa was getting robbed at the rate women are being beaten in this county, there would be outrage," Pye said. "We should have that kind of outrage when we hear about women and children being beaten in their own homes, and being abused in their own homes.”
The Beacon Center has a 24/7 hotline, which can be reached at 386-255-2102.