The statistics are frightening! Nearly 20 people per minute are victims of intimate partner violence in the U.S. On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.
Domestic violence includes physical, psychological, spiritual, sexual and economic abuse. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of female homicide victims were killed in connection to intimate partner violence.
During October, which was domestic violence awareness month, the churches of St. Mary Riverside, Mater Christi, St. Leonard and approximately 35 other community sponsors (schools, libraries, civic organizations, etc.) participated in "Don't Look Away: How to Respond to Troubled Relationships."
At North Riverside's town hall on Oct. 24, the forum included speakers representing the church, the medical and legal fields as well as social service agencies. The purpose: to dispel the myth that domestic violence only occurs in specific socioeconomic groups, that the survivor provoked the violence, that abuse against a partner does not affect children, that batterers just have trouble expressing their anger, that women ask for it and they deserve what they get, that domestic violence is a private matter and should not be discussed and that no one should get involved. These and many other related matters were addressed in the 90-minute event.
Following the presentations, representatives from battered women's shelters, law enforcement, social service agencies, the church, legal and medical professionals were on hand to speak privately with those in need.
Local agencies are available for assistance. For further information, contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787- 3224 (TTY).
Domestic violence is a crime. It is against the law. We are all affected by domestic violence, and we all have a responsibility to speak out against it. Only then will it end.
Barbara E. Silvestri