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Breaking the silence

By Staff | Oct 19, 2011

“No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.”

-Alice Walker

Domestic violence has persisted for centuries, but only recently have people begun to recognize it as a dangerous social problem and a crime.

Even if you’ve never experienced the pain and humiliation of abuse firsthand, most of us have a neighbor, friend or loved one who has. There’s no excuse for domestic violence, and as a community we should strive to break the cycle of abuse once and for all.

Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of coercive behavior one person uses to gain and maintain power and control over their partner. This may include physical and sexual violence, threats, insults and economic deprivation which is aimed at gaining control and maintaining power and control over the body, mind, spirit, lifestyle and behavior of a partner.

Domestic violence causes lasting damage to its victim’s physical and mental health. More than 50 percent of women who seek mental health services have had violent or abusive experiences. This abuse affects their ability to work, to support themselves, to maintain self-confidence and to move on and build a new life.

Domestic violence is a major cause of homelessness, accounting for about 16 percent of homeless shelter placements.

Statistics suggest that growing up in a household with domestic violence can have a negative impact on, among other things, academic achievement and the likelihood of school attendance.

Here are the facts:

One in four women experience some form of violence from a partner in their lifetime. Every week two women die as a result of it. Domestic violence accounts for 22 percent of the violent crimes experienced by women in the United States, and 3 percent of violent crimes against men. Approximately 37 percent of women seeking injury-related treatment in hospital emergency rooms were there because of injuries inflicted by a current or former spouse or partner. One in four adolescents report verbal, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse from a dating partner each year.

On any given day, licensed domestic violence programs in West Virginia provide services to nearly 600 women, children and men. A third of homicides in West Virginia are related to domestic violence.

If you, or someone you love, have fallen victim to domestic violence, we urge you to seek help.

Why should anyone have to live in fear of the people they love? What’s more, how can we sit idly by while men, women and children are being abused in our own back yard?

If you advocate for domestic violence awareness, join us Thursday at 6:30 p.m. for a candlelight vigil in honor of the victims in our community. Break the silence and speak out against domestic violence!