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Florida Refuge For Puerto Rican Women Who Are Victims Of Domestic Violence


Two governors and 90 victims later, SB 70 was signed into law, banning the disclosure of the location of domestic violence (DV) centers and other information in Florida.  It means a safe haven for many who have suffered at the hands of those they trusted across the state, but on the island, as well.

A State of Emergency

Sadly, many people across the globe found themselves in a violent crisis as the pandemic caused one shutdown after another. In Puerto Rico, Governor Urrutia of Puerto Rico wound up responding to escalation in DV cases by declaring a state of emergency. While that helped direct focus and funding toward the problem, activists from the island say much more needs to be done.

Staunch Gender Roles Contribute to Domestic Violence in Puerto Rico

According to Tania Mendez, who runs Taller Salud in Puerto Rico, there is a long and systemic problem with domestic violence on the island.  This, she says, is because of the stringent roles women are expected to play historically, the marginalization of women’s rights, and limited opportunities to expand traditional roles. Frustration in families due to poverty, natural disasters and the pandemic has exacerbated the impact of DV, with a rise in reported cases at over 60 percent in the last few years.

Women simply are unable to push out of traditionally subservient roles in Puerto Rican society, leaving them powerless in the face of violence.  Boys grow into men believing that power is essential to manhood.  Tragically, this translates into violence against women all too often.

Hope on the Horizon

Multiple agencies are now dedicated to coordinating responses for victims of domestic violence and creating a brighter future.  Some years ago the office of Ombudsman in Puerto Rico provided the assistance required by one victim of such violence in order to escape a dangerous situation in Puerto Rico.  Yansis Gonzalez was able to shuffle her family off of the island to Orlando, where it was then possible to get into a shelter and ultimately rebuild her life.  With recent steps to assist victims, like Gonzalez,  more women will have the opportunities they need in order to make a fresh start.

Do You Need Help?

If you are suffering the effects of domestic violence, you should know that advocates are available to assist with the development of a safety plan, relocating to a sheltered environment, dealing with police and legal issues, and rebuilding a life for you and your family. Coordinadora Paz para la Mujer is one such organization in Puerto Rico that is open every day of the year to provide assistance.

The Legal Aid You Need

At the Law Office of Julia Kefalinos, you can count on knowledgeable, efficient legal assistance as you navigate a new life.  Contact our Miami domestic violence attorneys for a confidential consultation today.



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