There's one fact people can, sadly, bank on: Domestic violence is not going away.
— There's one fact people can, sadly, bank on: Domestic violence is not going away.
Those were the words spoke Tuesday by Michele Minor-Wolf, executive director of the Wayne County Victims Intervention Program (VIP).
In recent weeks, several high-profile domestic cases have been in the news. It brings to light the very difficult topic of domestic violence.
"Domestic violence is about power and control," said Wolf. "It's not about anger."
She also noted that many cases of domestic violence are never reported. How many, she said, is a mystery.
Many times, victims are not aware there is help. Other times, they are not aware of their rights.
In many cases, said Wolf, the batterer has "an extreme amount of control" over the victim and they are in fear for their lives.
Another interesting point Wolf made is the fact a large majority of "abusive people exercise appropriate control in other parts of their lives."
She said many of the them have good jobs, are active in churches and other organizations and seem to lead normal lives — until they go home.
"They do it at home because it is a controlled environment," said Wolf.
That environment, she said, can become entrapment for the victim who sometimes may have no place to turn.
Wolf said there is a "big need" for a batterer intervention program in Wayne County. Those programs are designed to treat batterers though it is usually court ordered. The nearest one is Scranton.
But, said Wolf, there is a "better answer" in dealing with people who abuse others.
"They need to be held more accountable," said Wolf. "There is still too much acceptance by many people that there is no shame about batterers."
She did say many people are standing up and voicing their feelings, however, "we are not loud enough."
Another difficult situation when it comes to abusive relationships is just what victims should do.
"To try to leave is really hard," said Wolf.
She said simply finding people the resources to start new lives is very difficult. It's not just about paying rent but paying deposits, getting utilities turned on and much more.
"As a society, we need to better help people be successful when they leave," said Wolf.
In many cases, Wolf said victims have been completely isolated by the batterer, sometimes to the point where not even family contact happens. That, she said, is part of the pattern which develops in domestic violence situations.
One of the most difficult aspects of dealing with domestic violence, said Wolf, is that all cases are different. Though they have similarities, cases still involve individuals with very unique circumstances.
"What helps one woman survive can be the same thing that can get another woman killed," said Wolf.
In many cases, Wolf said the victim will go back into the abusive situation. It can be for many reasons but can often be because they have nowhere else to turn. It's simple survival.
She said victims go back seven to 10 times, according to statistics.
Wolf said VIP deals with basically two types of situations related to domestic violence.
The first is emotional and mental abuse. She emphasized people in that situation can turn to VIP and they will help.
The other is physical abuse, which is very common and statistics reveal those cases have been on the rise year after year.
What Wolf has noticed in recent years is the "level of violence involved."
She said the brutality seems to be getting worse, including strangulation, which she said has increased. Victims can have long-term effects if they are subject to strangulation, she said.
Wolf said if someone needs the help of VIP, they should contact the hotline at 253-4401. They can help victims develop a safety plan and assist in finding resources to help them get out of the situation.