KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Nicole Montalvo’s remains were found on a property owned by her husband and his family. Given their past, this has sparked a conversation about domestic violence.

“Love should not hurt, it shouldn’t be painful. We are here for you,” said Eddie Montalvo, Nicole’s twin brother during Monday’s candlelight vigil.

Also present at the vigil was Help Now of Osceola, a nonprofit that provides a temporary shelter for survivors of domestic abuse who may be in danger, along with resources to help them.

“But this particular incident where they had the candlelight vigil was an opportunity for us to all recognize that domestic violence affects everyone,” said Tammy Douglass, Executive Director for Help Now of Osceola.

Records show Montalvo had a history of domestic violence issues involving her husband Christopher Otero-Rivera, including kidnapping and assault.

According to court documents, Montalvo filed for a divorce in February. Then in October, Montalvo asked the judge to drop an order of protection against her husband. In that letter she wrote, “I am just trying to do what’s right for our son. He is my main concern and no matter what, at the end of the day Chris is his dad.”

While Help Now can’t speak specifically about Montalvo’s case, they say the most dangerous time a survivor faces is when they’re ready to leave.

“The homicides… The real serious dangerous happens when someone is in the process of leaving or has already left. So that danger doesn’t necessarily go away because they left a situation,” Douglass said. “And we talk about that a lot, because the number one question we get when we talk about domestic violence in the community is ‘why didn’t she just leave?’ And it’s not that simple, and it’s not that safe.”

These advocates say reaching out for help is the first step in starting a journey that’s violence-free.

“We help survivors through safety planning and help them to actually put steps in place so they can leave safely and without harm,” said Evelyn Herrera-Jackson, Outreach Services Director for Help Now of Osceola.

As Domestic Violence Awareness Month comes to an end, the hope is to keep talking about it in order to help end abuse in the community.

Help Now of Osceola has a 52 safe-bed shelter for victims in danger. They also offer courthouse advocacy among other services:

  • Prevention training
  • Individual counseling
  • Crisis intervention
  • Education components
  • Support groups
  • Projects for child welfare

Help Now Of Osceola is one of 42 certified domestic violence centers in the state. Here’s more information from the centers around Central Florida.