Every seven minutes.
That’s the frequency of calls to the domestic violence hotlines.
But it’s not the most alarming statistic.
Boys who witness domestic violence in their homes are twice as like to grow up to be the abuser. And girls who witness these acts are likely to end up in similar relationships when they become women and mothers.
One in every four women in West Virginia has been or will be the victim of domestic violence.
Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women — more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined. And every day an average of three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.
It’s a crime that targets young and old, rich and poor, every social class, men and women.
It’s not just the abuser’s target who is a victim. More than 3 million children witness domestic violence each year in the U.S., and studies suggest witnessing violence as a child can lead to depression, trauma-related symptoms and low self-esteem as adults.
And it’s a vicious cycle that we must stop.
As National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, October serves as a chance to shed light on the key issues surrounding domestic violence, its victims and legislation aimed at protecting those in harm’s way.
For the person being abused, seeking help is often the first — and most crucial — step toward safety. The following agencies can help: the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233); Common Ground Sanctuary (800-231-1127); and Haven (877-922-1274).
Help is also available in West Virginia thanks to a bill referred to as Celena’s Law, which creates the misdemeanor crime of unlawful restraint. It was signed into law last year. In addition to protecting victims of domestic violence, it provides law-enforcement officers with an additional tool to combat the damage caused by abusers.
Conviction brings up to a year in jail and a $500 fine, or both.
“October is a month to remember and celebrate the lives of victims and survivors of domestic violence,” said Athena Stima, adult/children’s case manager and volunteer coordinator at HOPE Inc., the local domestic violence shelter. “It is also the month to reinforce the community’s awareness of domestic violence and to provide education on its prevention.”
HOPE offers emergency shelter, supportive services, advocacy, professional counseling, community education, children’s programs, volunteer opportunities, support groups and a 24- hour hotline.
We need to recognize how serious and widespread this problem is, not just in October, but year-round. We need to support legislation that protects victims and expands definitions of abuse, as well as increase the penalties for offenders. We need to volunteer and financially support programs and shelters like HOPE, a United Way agency, as they battle to break the cycle of domestic violence each and every day.
We strongly encourage those who are affected by domestic violence as well as those who wish to volunteer their time to call the HOPE Inc. hotline at 304-367-1100.
We can make a difference in the lives of women and children who are afraid, hurting and who need help more than we will ever know. We can teach that love is patient and love is kind. It doesn’t use fists or threats or angry words that hurt.
We’ll offer one more statistic. In the time it took you to read this piece, 17 calls were made to a domestic violence hotline.
Every seven minutes.
Laws to keep mudslinging to minimum can stife free speech
By nature, and by profession, we do not like lies. As journalists, we’re truth tellers. Or at least we attempt to get at the truth through research, attribution, documents and comments from people on either side of an issue.
Sometimes it ends up with “telling lies from both sides,” as a crusty reporter once mused a handful of years ago.
COLUMN: Freedom of Information — if you can pay
Several years ago, I made a Freedom of Information request to a local government agency. Within the five business days, as required by law, a packet of information was delivered to the office. I expected a bill, as most government offices have a charge that ranges from 25 cents to $1.25 per page for copies of the documents we request.
The reassuring spirit of Easter: One of new hope and beginnings
During the sub-zero and snow-filled months of winter, we maintained a spirit of hope that spring was on the way. It has now become a reality as all nature stretches and yawns and awakens once more to a new beginning. The fragrance of spring awakens our waiting nostrils, the budding beauty of new life brightens our eyes, and the reassuring idea of renewal stimulates our minds.
Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated
Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.
Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives
A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.
State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary
Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.
Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better
When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.
COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable
That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!
Decision to be an organ donor can save lives
Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.
Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community
Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
Marion County is full of volunteers.
They read to our youth.
They assist nonprofit agencies.
They serve on boards and committees.
And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.
- More Opinion Headlines
- Laws to keep mudslinging to minimum can stife free speech