Look behind closed doors to help victims

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Many people seem to enjoy a wonderful family life that is safe and secure.

Unfortunately, what goes on “behind closed doors” can be very different.

The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey data reports, “On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the US. Over the course of a year, that equals more than 12 million women and men.”

In just one day, across the U.S. and its territories, the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) Census Counts 2011 reported more than 67,000 victims of domestic violence sought services from domestic violence programs and shelters.

“One in 4 women is the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner while 1 in 7 men experiences severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime,” according to NNEDV.

There is also a common misconception that domestic violence is always committed by men on women. While male on female violence is the most common, there are male victims of domestic violence. “Department of Justice stats note in 2010, the percentage of female victims (22 percent) of intimate partner violence was about 4 times that of male victims (5 percent).

The NNEDV reports that “more than 1 in 3 women have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime and approximately 7 million women are raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former intimate partner each year.”

The facts are that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 77 men has experienced rape in her or his lifetime.

Nationwide, an average of 3 women are killed by a current or former intimate partner every day.

Female victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner experienced impacts such as fear, concern for their safety, need for medical care, injury, need for housing services, and missing work or school.

Children may experience multiple types of exposure to domestic violence, with nearly all exposed children being direct eyewitnesses to at least some violence in the home.

Children react to exposure to domestic violence in different ways, and many children show remarkable resilience. However, children exposed are often physically, mentally, and emotionally impacted.

Preventing domestic violence not only has physical and emotional advantages but also economic impacts.

Research findings from California suggest that just a 5 percent reduction in rates of intimate partner violence would account for an $8.6 million dollar economic savings.

Prevention has to start at the roots, according the NNEDV.

“Preventing violence means changing our society and its institutions—eliminating those attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, environments and policies that contribute to violence and promoting those that stop the violence.”

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. We ask people to understand there is much going on “behind closed doors” that needs to be changed. We need to be willing to help those victims. Victims need to be willing to reach out for help.

Show your support on Oct. 28 in Williston during the Domestic Violence Awareness Walk. Do more than walk - reach out.