Editor's post: Domestic abuse awareness - it's the witnesses
Gary King, editor | Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013
When you think of a witness of domestic violence, you may picture a neighbor who called police about a fight between the couple next door.
But think roots.
How many young girls who witness domestic violence are more vulnerable to abuse as teen and adults? And without intervention, how many boys who witness domestic violence are more likely to become abusers of their partners and children?
Thus the cycle that begins with witnesses. One that remains difficult to break.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month - and although it seems a bit minimal, the Leader attempts, as a local newspaper, to keep the issue in the spotlight as much as possible.
Over the years, we’ve published countless stories of actual domestic abuse incidents - some which led to serious injury and even death. That’s simple news reporting.
We also continue to shine the light on public awareness efforts through editorials and coverage of special vigils in remembrance of victims.
Last week we chose to highlight, in one story, eight domestic-related criminal cases brought to the district attorney’s office in Polk County for that week. They ranged from verbal fights to harassing texts to physical altercations, including a man who attempted to push his girlfriend out of a car.
In one case a mother was accused of perpetrating verbal and physical abuse on one of her juvenile children as they attempted to calm her down after a night out on the town.
Men are not the only sex capable of domestic abuse but they are almost always the ones to inflict the abuse.
The rundown of incidents provided unsettling awareness - actual details that some may shrug off as normal or laugh about. Most of those incidents probably don't constitute the violence that some associate with domestic abuse - but they represent the pre-curser, if you will, for the ultimate crime.
Statistics show domestic abuse to be of epidemic proportions with an estimated 8 to 12 million women in the U.S. at risk of being abused by current or former intimate partners.
Perhaps the most disturbing statistic cited by authorities notes that a child’s life is lost every seven minutes due to child abuse.
Children’s rights, although an entirely separate issue, is directly tied to domestic abuse.
This past year we reported on two 911 calls made by a woman who claimed her boyfriend was guilty of domestic violence and later complained to officials in a neighboring county that nothing was done about it. She claimed the lack of action by authorities in her own county was because her boyfriend was a peace officer for that county. The case resulted in two other officers - accused of covering up the incidents by not properly reporting them - being fired. Since then, a settlement was reached in which one officer was allowed back to work under stipulations unknown at this time and the second one retired.
The officer who was accused of domestic violence was found guilty of disorderly conduct by the state.
That issue, which played out over months, opened the door for public discussion - and perhaps because the matter remained under investigation for so long - the Leader, as a newspaper with an obligation - failed to allow a full public forum during that time period.
But we did contact the director of the Community Referral Agency, Ann Frey, for comment on the case, while it remained under investigation. We chose to refrain from publishing her quotes, waiting for a verdict on the officers involved to be rendered..
But her comments should have been published at the time, as they more more than appropriate under the circumstances.
“Domestic violence is serious,” Frey said. “The public, victims and their advocates expect and demand a law enforcement response which lives up to the spirit and intent of the law.”
She added, “The judicial system is there to find fact and to make decisions regarding guilt or innocence. Anything short of that and we all lose.”
There’s really nothing more that needs to be said here on the importance of awareness of domestic abuse. - with information from Safe Horizons (mysafejourney.org)