Editor’s note: This story talks about domestic violence and may be a trigger for some readers.
BREVARD COUNTY — On March 1, community members observed a moment of silence in memory of Nadene Cavaliere, an active volunteer serving the Melbourne Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Palm Bay Chamber of Commerce.
On March 1, 2022, Ms. Cavaliere died in a homicide-suicide, a victim of domestic violence. This news shocked the public, because Ms. Cavaliere was always seen smiling, quick to give hugs, and was a constant presence at Chamber events.
“She was a beacon of inspiration for everyone who met her,” said Coral Perez, marketing and fundraising coordinator for Serene Harbour. “Throughout the past year, I have heard many stories about how he has been a great mentor to many young professionals, and he is eager to help them.”
Her mother, Carol Cavaliere, said Nadene was “my best friend” and would help people wherever she needed to be involved.
Ms. Cavaliere attended the Melbourne Regional Chamber’s 2023 Impact Awards. Chamber has changed its name from “Ambassador of the Year” to “Ambassador of the Year Nadene Cavaliere”.
Nadene has been awarded Ambassador of the Year several times, and of having the award named after her, her mother said, “I’m honored to think they thought so highly of it. He was a very caring person, very friendly, willing to help everyone and anyone, and took people under his wing in any way he could.”
Serene Harbor has also decided to name its future outreach center after Nadene, and is working on fundraising efforts for the “Nadene Cavaliere Center – A Beacon of Hope, Relief and Healing Outreach Center.”
The non-profit organization is a domestic violence center that has been providing resources, emergency shelter, counseling services, transportation, and more to communities for more than 30 years.
While the aim is to build an outreach facility, Serene Harbor is currently looking to rent a location and is keeping its options open in the meantime.
Ms. Cavaliere worked as a bank manager at Trustco Bank, and, according to his mother, the business decided to honor him by affixing a plaque and naming the branch after him.
Trustco Bank has also donated some money for the Nadene Cavaliere Center in Serene Harbour.
“The collaboration and partnership we received from Trustco really warmed our hearts because we could see how much they care for Nadene and how much they believe that the cycle of domestic violence must stop,” said Ms. Perez.
“Having their support and partnership in the Outreach Center will be great for us and the community,” he continued.
The Nadene Cavaliere Outreach Center will help the nonprofit expand its services to survivors, their families and their pets with a range of services and resources available to all in need.
Recognize the signs
“The sheriff said domestic violence is a silent crime and we can’t let it go any longer,” said Sandy Michelson, a member of the Zonta Club of Melbourne.
The Zonta Club of Melbourne advocates for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking by educating the public and working with law enforcement.
According to Serene Harbor, there are many signs that people can observe regarding domestic violence.
Physical signs include broken bones, bruises and scratches. Other red flags can also include brain injury from repeated hitting or strangulation.
“It also goes a little deeper than that,” said Ms. Perez. “It could be someone who is perpetually ill who has multiple infections, they have sleep disturbances, substance abuse, or unwanted pregnancies as part of the control the abuser will exercise over their partner.”
Zonta Club of Melbourne Vice President Cathy Greene added that women tend to hide signs of harassment, which will make it more difficult for friends, family or even co-workers to notice.
“I really think that domestic violence is still a big secret,” said Ms. Greene. “Nobody wants to talk about it, nobody wants to actually see it, and the people involved in it who are being abused are embarrassed. Sometimes it takes them seven, eight, nine times to leave their abuser before they finally do it.
Beyond physical signs, Ms. Perez says victims of abuse can also show signs of anxiety, depression and hypervigilance. They may startle easily or constantly check their surroundings.
Someone who used to be sociable may begin to withdraw, lose interest in activities they used to enjoy, and may even get sick more often than before.
The abused person may be afraid to leave their child or pet at home alone with the abuser, or the abuser may not want them to leave the house, forcing them to come to work because they are sick.
“Everything is back to power and control,” said Ms. Perez. “As perpetrators begin to exert more power over victims, they begin to feel ashamed and cover up what happened because there is this idea that we grow up with ‘happily ever after’ stories, and it’s hard to admit that something is wrong.
“It’s an, ‘I’m going to try to work this out’ thing because we as women try to carry as much of it on our shoulders as possible and fight the good battles alone,” she continued. “They believe they can handle it because they don’t want to aggravate their family members or have to go anywhere, or believe in a two-parent household. They try to keep from breaking their minds about what happened to them, their ideas about what their relationship should be, and what society expects of them.
Serene Harbor offers a classified hotline that is open 24/7, 365 days a year. Anyone who calls through the hotline will be speaking to someone from Serene Port and not a different outreach center.
Women, men, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community can call/text/TTY Serene Harbor’s secret hotline at (321) 726-8282 or seek help via their website www.sereneharbor.org, where survivors will find additional safety features to protect them. .