Every day — day in and day out — incidents of domestic violence/abuse appear in our newspapers and televisions. I’ve heard people say, “that could never happen here,” and then it does. No community is immune to abuse and resulting long-lasting effects of domestic violence. The National Coalition on Domestic Violence states that on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States, which equates to more than 10 million women and men. One in three women and one in four men have been victims of physical violence in varying degrees by an intimate partner within their lifetime.
I am fortunate to be involved with a non-profit serving six counties that addresses this problem head-on. Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. It can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.
Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. Domestic violence affects people of every socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels and occurs in both opposite-sex and same-sex relationships and can happen to intimate partners who are married, living together, or dating. Bullying and cyberstalking are now part of the equation.
This abuse not only affects the victims, but also has a substantial effect on family members, friends, co-workers, other witnesses, and the community at large. Children, who grow up witnessing domestic violence, are among those seriously affected by this crime. Frequent exposure to violence in the home not only predisposes children to numerous social and physical problems, but also teaches them that violence is a normal way of life. Its tendency to be passed down over generations makes it ever more important to address the problem immediately.
Most victims feel there is no hope, but they are wrong. Shelters providing safe harbor for themselves and their children, programs to provide needed funds to pay bills and medical costs, and, more specifically, counseling to teach needed skills to cope and regain emotional and mental health, are just a few of the services provided in cities and counties.
Join me in taking action, by educating ourselves and the next generation to thwart this epidemic. I’m a firm believer that each person can make a difference in this world, one person at a time.
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” (quote attributed to Anne Frank)