Domestic violence is a problem in our community, whether people want us to believe it or not. We have had several deaths involving domestic violence in our community over the past several years. I am always amazed that someone will make the comment to the press that "this doesn't happen in our community."
It does. We are no more immune to this type of violence than any other area in the country. Domestic violence touches all of our lives. It may be right in our family, the next door neighbor or your best friend. Many cases do not end in death, but the cost to us is just as high.
Children grow up in fear. They learn patterns of violence and victimization that they carry on into their adult lives. Jobs are lost and family's lives are forever changed by the turmoil that surrounds these types of relationships. Ultimately an escalating pattern of violence can lead to someone dying.
There was a time when Domestic Violence (DV) was considered a family matter and ignored unless it was really out of control. Laws and attitudes have changed. We are supposed to aggressively prosecute the perpetrators of DV and treatment is available for both the victim and the perpetrator. We have an excellent shelter for families that flee from a DV situation. The Family Support Center assists with support for the families as they put there lives back together.
It's not enough. We still have the violence in our community and we still have deaths. Each of us needs to do more. It is hard to understand why a woman would not just pack up and leave the first time she was hit. Or the second, third or 20th time. I was in a DV relationship a lifetime ago and I can't completely answer that either. But there are some things that will help a women make that decision before it's too late.
Support from friends and family goes a long way. Yes it does get frustrating listening to the same things over and over again. Don't offer advice unless asked. Instead ask "What do you want to do about this?" Empower when ever you can.
Housing, food, and employment are big issues when faced with raising a family alone. Help promote legislation that provides this support long enough for a single mom to get on her feet. Cut backs in funding for housing and other support programs make it difficult to assist families as they try to make a new life.
Do not tolerate any drug use. If you are aware of it in your neighborhood, report it. You may have to turn in a family member or a friend. This is serious stuff. Substance abuse increases family violence by an incredible rate.
I have known most of the victims who have died because of DV in our community. Some better than others. I have also been touched by DV within our own family.
It does happen here. It happens every day.