December 30, 2020
Dear Ms. Hirt,
Thank you and USA Today for the critical investigative report regarding the Florida Department of Children and Families, “Florida blames mothers when men batter them – then takes away their children.” (Dec. 17, 2020.) The system is indeed “stacked” against women, particularly women who are survivors of abuse by an intimate partner.
Your article noted that, “Florida DCF considers exposing children to domestic violence a form of child abuse. That other states have moved from that approach” Activists and mothers alike know too well that this type of removal still happens in many other states.
We want to suggest that the local USA Today journalists partner with others to expand this article by looking at other states where children are suddenly and forcefully taken from mothers due to domestic violence.
DCF, as in your story and other parts of the country, put in place many challenging benchmarks for women to accomplish to regain custody of their children after their removal.
- Drug testing a victim, when drugs were never an issue.
- Requiring completion of all programs, some almost impossible to attend, and still maintain a job.
- Separating siblings into different foster families, too often in other counties, making it nearly impossible for a mother to visit her children regularly, as required to meet the programs’ demands.
We need a much larger lens to view the actual reality of what happens to women who are victims of abuse through no fault of their own. Women are not responsible for the triggers or patterns displayed by abusers and should not be held accountable for the violence they experience, but should be protected and allowed to protect their children as well.
We need to end the blame and shame of women who find themselves in a relationship with a violent partner. We, as a society, must improve our approach to protecting and supporting victims and children.
We urge USA Today to expand the Florida DCF investigation to include other parts of the United States to show the burdens far too many women suffer and the continued damage and trauma they and their children endure as the remedy to domestic violence.
Feel free to contact PBC NOW at email@example.com to reach Renee Beeker, Toni Van Pelt or any of this group. The people sending this letter and listed below are leaders in their community who have specific concern and expertise in this topic.
Toni Van Pelt, Indian Shores FL
Renee Beeker, Milford MI
Sheila Jaffe, Boca Raton FL
Natalie Andre, Delray Beach FL
Donna Mathews, Tulsa OK
Adele Guadalupe, Palm Beach County, FL
Linda Miklowitz, Tallahassee FL
Janet Clark, Lake Worth FL
Laura Fausone, Indialantic FL
BJ Star, Dunedin FL
Terry Sanders, Indialantic FL
Donna Slutiak, Ocklawaha, FL