October is Domestic Violence Awareness month
“Raising awareness for domestic violence is extremely important,” said Becky Davis. She should know since she is the program director of Domestic and Sexual abuse Services of the Crisis Center.
To call attention to this problem, for the past 30 years, October has been observed as Domestic Violence Awareness Month nationwide. It is also an issue that, sadly, hits close to home.
“In the last three months we have seen 56 cases of domestic abuse and 11 cases involving children that witnessed the abuse of a loved one. This is a real problem that we have in Barton County,” Davis said.
According to the Crisis Center, the reasons why there is such a high number of domestic violence cases in the county are due the poverty level, along with drug abuse and lack of jobs in the area.
“These women become financial dependent on the abusers due to the lack of jobs in Barton County,” Davis said. “These women see no other way out, they feel trapped in the relationship.”
A closer look
In one year in Kansas, about 19,000 victims are served and about 24,000 phone calls are taken by Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence’s 27 coalition members, including the Family Crisis Center.
According to Family Crisis Center Executive Director Joanne Wondra, the Great Bend-based center covers Barber, Barton, Comanche, Edwards, Kiowa, Ness, Pawnee, Pratt, Rush and Stafford counties, and in those counties:
• The center served 226 victims in 2016, about the same as in 2015. Of those, 185 were women, 12 were men and 29 were children.
• There were also 93 sexual assault victims, another number that has stayed even. These included 58 woman, six men and 29 children.
• The crisis line fielded 3,724 calls.
Of these victims, 55 percent were from Barton County. Also, the center’s shelter housed 35 women and 25 children, figures that increased over the previous year.
The Dell Hayden Memorial Child Advocacy Center housed in the Family Crisis Center covers Barton, Pawnee, Rush and Stafford counties. In 2016, the Dell Hayden Center’s numbers were:
• In all, 342 victims were served, including 176 children and 166 non-offending care givers.
• There were 102 forensic interviews and 22 medical assessments.
In all, 70 percent of these victims were from Barton County.
A complex issue
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that “intimate partner violence (also known as “domestic violence”) is a serious, preventable public health problem that affects millions of Americans.” In all, 25 percent of all Americans, and all Kansans, will experience some form of domestic violence.
Furthermore, in 2015,intimate partners committed 40 percent of homicides of women and 7 percent of homicides of men. In the same year, intimate partners carried out 25 percent of all homicides in Kansas.
But, the CDC notes, the under-reporting of these violent crimes is widely known.
There is hope
But there are services for these women through different programs offered by the center. These include:
• 24-Hour crisis line
• Safety planning
• Supportive counseling
• Outreach services
• Shelter services
• Children’s program within the shelter
• Support groups
• Referral services
• Civil and criminal court advocacy
• Law enforcement advocacy
• Medical advocacy
• Social service advocacy
• Professional training
• Community awareness
• Services for families and friends of survivors
For more information about domestic violence or sexual abuse contact the center by calling 620-792-1885.
According to domesticviolenceroundtable.org, domestic violence is when one partner in an intimate relationship abuses the other. The abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional or a combination of all three.
Physical abuse can include very aggressive acts, such as beatings and forced sexual activity including intercourse, or it can take the form of less severe acts like throwing, shoving and slapping.
In emotional abuse, the abuser constantly humiliates and puts down the victim. The weapons of emotional abuse include verbal insults, threats, control of physical activity, unfounded accusations of infidelity, control of economic decisions and social isolation.
Depending on the relationship, the physical or emotional abuse may happen very often or not as often. Either way, once violence begins, it will usually continue and get worse over time. No matter how often the abuse happens, the victim of domestic violence suffers constant terror and stress, living in fear of the next episode.
While women are most commonly the victims of their male partners, domestic violence can happen between all sorts of people and in all sorts of relationships. It happens between people who are married and between people who aren’t living together. It can be abuse by a man against a woman, or by a woman against a man. It can occur in gay or lesbian relationships.