Giovanna Vega doesn’t consider herself a domestic violence victim. “I see myself like a survivor,” she said. She was stabbed 13 times, and survived.
“I prayed to God that day,” Vega said. “And I told him, don’t let me die. My kids need me”.
Giovanna says her husband had her pinned down the bathroom of their apartment and she was pleading to him.
“I told him, ‘Please can you call the police. Can you call the ambulance? I’m going to die here,” she said.
Adan Fioalisso Andia did call police. He was arrested and recently entered a plea of no contest to a charge of attempted murder. He was sentenced to spend 13 years in prison for the attack.
His attorney says Andia had never been in trouble before and just snapped.
Giovanna is speaking out about her painful moments to highlight an innovative program in Hollywood that she credits for helping her recover. As a part of the program, the Hollywood Police Department has assigned a domestic violence expert to her and she’s going to counseling.
“The objective behind all of this is to stop the repeat violence and to hopefully stop it from initiating,” said Sergeant Brian Joynt, the unit’s commander.
Sgt. Joynt oversees the department’s effort that were started three years ago.
The unit has three detectives, two victim’s advocates and a data researcher.
Together they are able to give officers on the street a heads up if they’re responding to a home where domestic violence has happened.
“Every time someone is arrested, we give them a letter explaining that they are now on a watch list and we are going to do more scrutiny on them—watch what they are doing, “ Joynt said.
The officers also make periodic visits to the homes to people on the watch list.
There are now more than 3,200 men and women on the watch list separated into four categories that is based on the level of risk they pose. Joynt says people can be put on the list even if they haven’t been arrested.
“We are going out to their house and they are repeat domestics –over and over—we get two—three-- five times—there wasn’t enough to make an arrest,” Joynt said. “We also put them on notice.”
They think their outreach is working.
“We might even be able to get the offenders some kind of help to stop them from repeating their violence,” Joynt said.
Joynt says that since 2016, the number of domestic violence incidents in Hollywood as fallen, down 24 percent.
Giovanna is thankful for the help she’s getting.
“I feel like I’m really lucky because some people they don’t make it,” she said.
She recently graduated from Broward College with her kids by her side to celebrate. She wants to be a lesson to them and to others.
“Maybe my story can change or help some other people,” she said.
Women in Distress of Broward County has a helpline for people in a domestic abuse situation. The number is 954-761-1133.