Recent cases of domestic violence in Florida and throughout the country highlight the dire need for victims to seek out the legal help they need to obtain domestic violence injunctions in order to protect themselves and their loved ones.
The Don Spirit Case of Multiple-Homicide Domestic Violence
In September 2014, Don Spirit lived in Bell, FL with his unmarried daughter Sarah and her six children. The family had a history of crime, drug abuse, unemployment, and violence. Social workers with the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) visited the home that she shared with her boyfriend in the mid-2000s in order to investigate allegations of child neglect. The children were reported as being constantly dirty and underfed, and the parents were accused of doing drugs in front of them. The DCF did not remove the children from the parents’ home in spite of multiple visits by the department, including one that occurred just a month before Sarah and the children were killed by her father. Sarah and the two fathers of her six children were constantly either in jail or on probation.
In 2008, when Sarah was 22 and pregnant for the third time, she went to the Gilchrist County Court seeking a domestic violence injunction against her father. She failed to pursue the injunction, but her father was convicted of battery and received a sentence of six months in jail. On Thursday, September 18, 2014, Don Spirit called 911 and told them he had just killed Sarah and her six children. When police arrived, he shot himself in the head outside his home. This was the seventh domestic violence mass murder-suicide in Florida this year.
The Need for a Domestic Violence Injunction to Break the Cycle of Violence
Domestic violence is a tragic, complex matter which is the result of numerous factors woven together. As the above story demonstrates, it often is accompanied by other social ills — poverty, drug use, and crime. It is an issue that requires the assistance of various members of the community — social workers, the court system, and community safe houses — all working together.
An experienced domestic violence attorney is one of those community members that can help. Women, as well as men, who are the victims of violence often do not reach out for assistance because of the fear of repercussions from the abuser. In the case of Sarah Spirit, she had no restraining order, and she lived with her father. It is likely she was not aware of the option of other living arrangements.
A domestic violence restraining order requires the abuser to stay a specified distance away from the petitioner, her home, her place of work, her car, and her children, if they also are in danger. In the process of seeking out such an order a victim can get connected with community services that can provide shelter for her and her family.
Although solving this problem is complicated, a first and vital step is for the victim to get help from an experienced and caring West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney. The Law Offices of James S. Cunha, P.A. serves the family law needs of clients in West Palm Beach, Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Lake Worth, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Jupiter, and Boca Raton in Palm Beach County. We also represent clients in Broward, Hendry, Martin, Miami-Dade, Okeechobee, and St. Lucie Counties. Call us today at 1(800) 558-1227, locally at (561) 429-3924 or via email at [email protected] to schedule your 1 hour consultation.