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October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

POSTED October 16, 2012 4:23 p.m.
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According to national statistics, a woman is assaulted or beaten every nine seconds, and every day, a woman is murdered by a husband or boyfriend.

And not just women are domestic violence victims; men and children are also subjected to domestic violence with great frequency.

Domestic violence is a problem deserving national attention, with a sense of urgency to bring the problem to an end. Accordingly, October is National Domestic Violence Month in recognition of the fact that millions of people in America fall victim to domestic violence each year.

In addition to the human suffering, there is the secondary effect on this nation's economy; billions of dollars lost each year to decreased work productivity, incarceration, medical and psychological expenses and employment absences. That this problem continues in such a large scale does not speak well about a nation that wants to consider itself as being a civilized one.

Males and females of all ages can be domestic violence victims. And to qualify as a crime, physical injuries need not be present. The harm can come in the form of mental abuse, physical abuse or both. Statistics indicate that one out of three women end up as victims of domestic violence. The [reported] rate of female victimization is some 10 times greater than their male counterparts, so it is fair to say that domestic violence is a male-dominated crime.

Domestic violence often starts in the form of mild abuse that most victims do not bother to report. The problem is that once the pattern starts, it almost always intensifies over the course of time. Each event becomes more and more violent. In the worst cases, the victim gets killed, while many others suffer serious injuries.

Many victims believe they cannot escape their man-made hell, owing primarily to their dependence on their partners, or, they feel that nothing can help them correct the problems. The first step is to address the problem before it grows to serious dimensions. Angry, heated outbursts should be dealt with as a precursor to physical violence. Both the victim and aggressor should, without delay, seek counseling to help avert future, bigger problems. Anger management, legal consequences education and plain appropriate behaviour training is in order for both parties.

This country has made great strides in providing assistance and support for domestic violence victims. Most of the support comes through non-profit organizations that rely on mostly private donations, with some limited taxpayer support. Unfortunately, this nation's bad economy has squeezed the non-profits such that victim services have been significantly reduced and unless there is increased public awareness and financial support, the services will continue along the same downward trend. It is important for people to know about these financial problems and engage in fund raising efforts to support local domestic violence programs. We would be in a bad way if not for these organizations, which use only a limited number of paid staff and make much use of volunteers.

The human suffering and economic impacts of domestic violence is almost incalculable, but we all know that it is a serious and pervasive problem in this society. It must be stopped, and the abusers given no leniency. I can assure the people of our community that our law enforcement officers take a zero-tolerance stance against those who commit domestic violence. Those who assault or injure their partners will go to jail and face rigorous prosecution.

If you are a victim, trust the system and call the police.

For the violators, get involved in counseling and do whatever else is necessary to stop the cycle.

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