October brings focus to domestic violence

Published 11:02 pm Monday, October 31, 2005

By Staff
Where did it go?
Somehow, October is almost over.
This glorius autumn month which marks the best of fall football, the end of daylight savings time, breast cancer awareness, and Red Ribbon Week is almost gone. At The Standard, we've tried to note all of the designated weeks with appropriate coverage, but somehow we almost missed Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The oversight was not intentional. Renee Cain, who works with victims of domestic violence, called to remind us and even helped us set up an interview with a victim who has overcome abuse and moved on with her life. The interview fell through and so did our coverage of this important issue.
Acts of Domestic Violence occur every 18 seconds in the United States and more than 6 million women are beaten by their husbands each year.
More than 50 percent of all women will experience some form of violence from their spouses during marriage.
More than one million women seek medical treatment yearly for injuries caused by their abusers, but doctors correctly identify the injuries as resulting from battering only 4 percent of the time. Perhaps that's because women lie to cover up the abuse, fearful of what will happen if they don't.
Perhaps they lie because they've read this statistic: Women who leave their batterers are at 75 percent greater risk of being killed by their batterers than those who stay.
I've considered domestic violence an important issue for a long time, but it became more important when I learned that a lifelong friend was a victim. Twice, her husband nearly killed her.
Ironically, in this month of domestic violence awareness, we have become aware that two other young women we know have been victimized and have left.
These are bright, intelligent and successful women. They are young mothers working hard to have good family lives.
Although they currently are dealing with anger and shame, they've done the right thing for them and for their children. As violence among women becomes more severe and more frequent in the home, children experience a 300 percent increase in physical violence by the male batterer.
Ladies, listen to your friends, sisters, cousins and co-workers. Pay attention to what they tell you and what they don't.
If I'd been more suspicious of bruises excused away as clumsiness, maybe I could have talked my friend into leaving before her husband worked her over with a baseball bat and left her bleeding from every portal of her body. Before he shot at her through the window of her Blazer and attacked her with a knife.
Michele Gerlach is publisher of The Standard. She may be reached at 867-4876 or michele.gerlach@brewtonstandard.com

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