Domestic Violence Surges in Andrew’s Wake With AM-Hurricane Aftermath, Bjt
MIAMI (AP) _ Domestic violence has surged in the wake of Hurricane Andrew as spouses take out their frustrations on each other, a judge said Thursday.
The disappearance of homes and jobs has put people under extreme stress, aggravated by the enormous amount of work that must be done, said acting Circuit Judge Linda Dakis.
″People are out there doing things they don’t usually do - chopping down trees, cleaning up - then they go into the house and there’s no water for a shower,″ she said. ″The fuses are shorter and they snap.″
The judge usually hears five or 10 emergency cases in a day. But on Wednesday, Ms. Dakis heard 22 emergency requests for 30-day injunctions against accused abusers - and that number is expected to pick up as transportation improves and victims can reach the courthouse.
The storm destroyed shelters and homes that are needed to protect victims of domestic violence. For instance, Safe Space South, a shelter for domestic violence victims in southern Dade County, was left uninhabitable.
″Police are still trying to separate the parties, but now we don’t have the options,″ the judge said. ″Many times the places we would send the abuser - the homes of friends and families - don’t exist anymore.″
The chief Dade County judge was meeting with military officials in an effort to get some shelters rebuilt, she said.
Calamities are often followed by domestic violence, said Dr. Calvin Frederick, a professor of psychiatry with the University of California at Los Angeles who formerly headed the disaster program for the National Institute of Health.
″There’s a feeling of utter futility and loss of hope,″ he told The Miami Herald. ″They get hostile. Domestic violence increases.″
The strain Andrew placed on families is apparent at the county’s domestic violence hotline and on court calendars, Ms. Dakis said.
″Our phones are ringing off the hook - all five lines are busy,″ she said.
Special court sessions are planned for south Dade in a week to 10 days to help decrease the backlog of abuse cases. The civil process division is working 12-hour shifts to speed up injuctions against accused abusers.
″People just have to be patient,″ Ms. Dakis said.