Although the number of domestic-violence murders in Orlando’s Orange County dropped slightly in 2011, those seeking shelter and protection from abusive partners reached record numbers, the Orlando Sentinel reports. No one can say for sure what fueled those increases, but advocates, law enforcement and legal experts say it’s a good sign. Advocates for domestic-violence victims hope that an increase in awareness and a stronger push toward community education has led more people to agencies that can help.
Harbor House of Central Florida provided emergency shelter to 1,007 men, women and children last year, which is up slightly from 2010, said Chief Executive Officer Carol Wick. The 2011 total is nearly double what it was five years ago, when 620 people sought emergency shelter. County courts got a record 5,173 injunction requests last year, about a 12 percent increase. The Orange Sheriff’s Office and Orlando Police Department saw an 8.5 percent drop in reported domestic-violence incidents in 2011. “A lot of it [the decrease] has to do with education,” said Cpl. Susan Soto of the Sheriff’s Office. “More people are seeking help and walking away from the abuse.”