Stopping the violence

Domestic violence, or Intimate Partner Violence (IPL), is widespread. It’s a serious public health crisis that impacts hundreds of thousands of women, and some men, across this country.

But don’t be fooled. Domestic violence is not a problem in other places; it’s as prevalent here in Sampson County as it is any other place, though we would like to think differently.

Take a look at the troubling data:

• 4,774,000 women in the United States experience physical violence by an intimate partner every year;

• 1 in 4 women will experience some form of domestic violence during her lifetime;

• Domestic violence is the 3rd leading cause of homelessness among families;

• Each year, 2 million injuries and 1,300 injuries and 1,300 deaths are caused as a result of domestic violence. Three women are murdered every day by an intimate partner;

• Every 9 seconds a woman in the United States is a victim of domestic violence;

• Women ages 18-34 are at greatest risk of becoming domestic violence victims;

• Nearly 1/2 of domestic violence victims experience psychological aggression;

• 1 in 10 domestic violence victims are raped;

• The reported data is believed to be far less than what is actually experienced because many victims refuse, for whatever reason, to report the crime.

The data is real. Men, and sometimes women, express their dissatisfaction with their partner by way of a clenched fist against a jaw or an elbow into the stomach or ribs. Some yell, scream, belittle and then deliver a punch to the face. Others spill out their venom through unwanted sexual acts forced upon them by their abuser.

The cases you read about in the newspaper merely scratch the surface of what actually takes placed behind closed doors in far too many households across this county and this country.

Like so many other terrible things that are allowed to continue in our society, it is time for the violence to stop; it is time for people to stop being silent victims, thinking they deserve the abuse they are taking at the hands of those who are supposed to love and care for them.

Brutality should not be an acceptable act from men or women. But it will not stop until the victims stand up for themselves, refusing to be the whipping child any longer; it will not stop until we all accept that domestic violence is a problem in our communities.

If we are silent, domestic violence will thrive; if we speak up, it can and will end.

Our own domestic violence shelter, U Care, is doing its part to stand up and speak up. Next week, that organization will stand up to domestic violence through a vigil and high-heel march through downtown Clinton.

On Oct. 9, the annual Domestic Violence vigil will be held, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Graves Memorial Presbyterian Church, 201 Fayetteville St. The purpose is to both honor survivors and to memorialize those who have died at the hands of those closest to them.

It’s all part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and it is something we encourage residents to take part in, showing their support for victims and an understanding of the problem that is rapidly growing right here in our midst.

We will never stop the abuse until we acknowledge the serious problem we have.

Let’s work together to teach others how to stand up for themselves; let’s work together to ensure that women understand that they don’t have to be victims.

Standing together, we can make a difference.