PRUNTYTOWN — Pruntytown Correctional Center inmates decorated the administration building’s auditorium with pink and blue paper chains.
The 1,247 pink links represent the number of women in the United States killed by their intimate partner in 2000, and the 440 blue links stand for the men killed.
Inmates, staff and the community gathered in the auditorium Tuesday night for a free public forum on domestic violence titled “The Public Responds.” PCC sponsored the forum for National Domestic Violence Awareness Month in partnership with Grafton Business and Professional Women and the Rape and Domestic Violence Information Center.
Leaders from different fields of the community made up a panel to discuss domestic violence. Brenda Thompson, PCC unit manager and Domestic Violence Awareness Month committee chairwoman, served as moderator for the event. Panel members answered predetermined questions as well as questions from the audience.
In West Virginia, someone is killed from domestic violence every 10 days, Lorraine Prictchard, RDVIC shelter supervisor and counselor, said. Three million women in the country are reported abused every year. Although 91 percent of victims are female, men also become victims of domestic violence.
Women report acts of domestic violence more than men, Prictchard said. Pfc. L.L. Knotts from the State Police said men often don’t want to admit they are battered by a woman.
Domestic assault and battery are misdemeanors on the first and second offenses, but become a felony on the third, Taylor County Magistrate Rick Reese said. Under federal law, those convicted of domestic violence charges have no firearms privileges.
Adults need to teach children at a young age that domestic violence is not acceptable, Cpl. Peter J. Shipp from the Taylor County Sheriff’s Department said. Children who are abused can become abusers.
“It comes from the way you were raised, what you witnessed when you were a kid,” Prictchard said. “It isn’t safe for children to even witness domestic violence.”
Many times, victims get used to the cycle of violence and often return to the abusive relationship.
“On average, they go back seven times,” Prictchard said. “They don’t realize the severity of it. They remember the good times and want to go back to that.”
In addition to physical injury, domestic violence can also involve psychological abuse.
In many cases, victims initially stay in the relationship for the sake of the children. However, many finally decide to leave so their children don’t become a part of the violence, Prictchard said.
Friends should encourage a domestic violence victim to seek help, Judge Beth Longo said. If friends or neighbors see or hear the violent acts, they should call the police.
“A lot of times, there are people who assume the life they’re living is normal,” Longo said.
Individuals who are injured or threatened with injury can visit the magistrate court and fill out a form for a protective order, she said.
Beth Kochka, sexual assault nurse examiner at Grafton City Hospital, encouraged victims of abuse to contact a hospital or domestic violence centers for help. Victims can also call the police.
Panel members stressed that violence is never the answer.
“The scriptures tell us to love and respect one another in all aspects of life,” Pastor Jeff Winter said.
E-mail Jessica Legge at firstname.lastname@example.org.