The headlines would be shocking enough if they had been culled from multiple cities over multiple days or weeks. However, they all appeared the same day — Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013 — in just one city, Pittsburgh, and in just one newspaper, the Post-Gazette:
• Boyfriend arrested in woman's Etna strangling death
• Hearing postponed for Pitt researcher accused in wife's cyanide death
• Fired Moon police officer accused of assaulting wife ordered to anger management classes
Pittsburghers are not the only Pennsylvanians grappling with the daily threat of domestic violence. Sadly, it’s all too common in our commonwealth. According to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 141 Pennsylvanians lost their lives to domestic violence last year, including three (3) in Wayne County. Among the state’s victims:
• An infant.
• An elementary school music teacher shot by her ex-husband as she played the organ during her church’s Sunday service.
• A 17-year-old girl whose boyfriend is accused of deliberately wrecking the car they were riding in and sitting on her as she lay trapped in the overturned car until she was smothered to death.
• A 20-year-old woman beaten, bludgeoned with a shovel, strangled, drowned and buried alive.
More than half the victims were shot; others were poisoned, burned, pushed down stairs and bludgeoned with baseball bats and pipe wrenches.
Page 2 of 4 - Domestic violence is so commonplace in our society – a woman is assaulted or beaten every nine seconds in the United States, according to domesticviolencestatistics.org — that we have become inured to its pervasiveness. Nationally:
According to the National Institute of Health, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women aged 15-44 — more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined.
One in five teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend has threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.
Domestic violence victims lose nearly eight million days of paid work per year in the U.S. alone - the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs.
1 in 3 women will become victims of domestic violence in their lifetime
October is national Domestic Violence Awareness Month. To mark the occasion, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, of which Victims’ Intervention Program is a member, and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape have jointly launched a new campaign to raise public awareness and reduce domestic violence in our communities.
A linchpin to the campaign is a new Web site, pasaysnomore.com, which features personal testimonials from survivors of domestic violence, as well as resources available to victims of domestic violence and their significant others.
The campaign also features a new lapel pin, a teal-colored O, or zero, which represents our ultimate goal of no more domestic violence in our communities. Our goal is to make the teal-colored lapel pin as ubiquitous and recognizable as the pink ribbon is for breast cancer awareness.
It’s important to let domestic violence victims know that there are alternatives to enduring abusive relationships that threaten their safety and jeopardize the long-term health of their children. Studies show that domestic violence is the leading predictor of child abuse, and that boys who witness domestic violence in their homes are 1,500 times more likely to perpetrate abuse later in life.
Page 3 of 4 - The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence and its 60 member affiliates have been providing assistance to domestic violence victims since 1976. Among the services:
• Legal assistance in obtaining protection from abuse orders and navigating the legal system.
• Shelter and relocation assistance.
• Address confidentiality program that hides your new address from your attacker.
• A toll-free national hotline — 1-800-799-SAFE — that’s available 24/7.
With a recent grant from Futures Without Violence, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence is joining with school nurses and family health practices in six central Pennsylvania communities to teach students about healthy relationships. Wayne County is one of the six communities.
Victims’ Intervention Program was awarded a small grant through PCADV and has partnered with the Honesdale High School, Maternal and Family Services and many other community providers to implement this project. The emphasis is on building school nurses’ skills to prompt conversations about the topic and to refer students to services.
A teen-dating violence law, passed in Pennsylvania in 2010, required the state Department of Education to develop a model policy to assist school districts in developing their own policies on dating violence reporting and response. This law also encourages schools to incorporate teen dating violence information into the annual health curriculum for students in grades 9 through 12.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 12 percent of teenagers have experienced some form of physical abuse by a dating partner. (When sexual, emotional and verbal abuse are figured in, some statistics put the rate at one in three teens.)
Page 4 of 4 - Domestic violence is one of our society’s major problems that hides in plain sight – it’s such an everyday occurrence that most of us tune it out like white noise, oblivious to the physical, financial, and psychological toll it exacts — when, in fact, the cost is high.
Studies indicate that, in the United States, domestic violence victims lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year — the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs. We need to let victims know that help is available, and each of us needs to take action so that domestic violence is no more.
Last fiscal year Victims’ Intervention Program provided services to 869 individuals. Of these, 551 identified as victims of domestic violence. If you or anyone you know is in need of services, please call our confidential 24-hour crisis hotline at 1-800-698-4VIP or locally 570-253-4401.