Domestic violence victims watch for triggers that send their partners into a battering rage and avoid them if they can. When a hurricane strikes and home has a hole in the roof and no electricity and school is canceled indefinitely, there’s little a victim can do, notes the St. Petersburg Times. “The phone is ringing and people are flooding in,” said Kay Tavorach of the Center for Abuse and Rape Emergencies in Punta Gorda, where Hurricane Charley struck Aug. 13. “Domestic violence is both emotional abuse and physical abuse, and there’s plenty of both in Charlotte County right now.”
Four hurricanes in six weeks have led to a spike in calls to domestic violence shelters. Victims’ advocates fear more are on the way as recovery efforts, spread thin across the state, plod on. Gov. Jeb Bush and his wife, Columba, made a plea Tuesday for relief workers to be on the lookout for signs of domestic violence. After Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida in 1992, domestic violence complaints in Dade County shot up 50 percent and divorce rates by 30 percent. Researchers at Florida International University found that many of the couples who split after the storm did so because of money – not too little, but too much. Couples whose marriages already were faltering couldn’t agree how to spend the insurance check and found it easier to split than fix the marriage. It took two years for domestic violence levels in Dade County to return to normal.