Commentary by Dawn Shewmaker
Family Advocacy Specialist at Hanscom Air Force Base
Editor’s Note: October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Domestic violence, both dating and spousal abuse, are costly and pervasive problems in this country, causing victims as well as witnesses and bystanders in every community to suffer incalculable pain and loss.
In addition to the lives taken and injuries suffered, partner violence shatters the sense of well-being that allows people to thrive. It also can cause health problems that last a lifetime and diminish children’s prospects in school and in life.
Prevalence and Risk of Violence in the United States
- On average three women and one man a day are murdered by their intimate partner
- Nearly one in four women reports experiencing violence by a current or former partner at some point in her life
- Women age 20-24 are at the greatest risk of experiencing nonfatal intimate partner violence
- In 70-80% of intimate partner homicides, no matter which partner was killed, the man physically abused the woman before the murder
The United States has made progress in the last few decades in addressing this violence, resulting in welcome declines – but there is more work to do to implement the strategies that hold the most promise. These include teaching the next generation that violence is wrong, training more health care providers to assess patients for abuse, implementing workplace prevention and victim support programs, and making services available to all victims including immigrants and children who witness violence.
October is designated as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, to remind everyone of the far reaching implications of DV and to reinforce the value of prevention. Communities throughout the country are taking this opportunity to acknowledge its impact on our families and future generations. The approaching holiday season can be a very stressful time, and this awareness month serves as an opportunity to reflect on the health of our own families and better understand the resources that are available to support those in need. As the month of October comes to a close, it is important to remember that the prevention of domestic violence and efforts to improve the health of our families is a year round effort.
If you or someone you know is in a relationship affected by DV, please seek help. Local resources available are Domestic Violence Service Network (888-399-6111) and Bedford Youth and Family Services (781-275-7727) as well as the Bedford Police Department and your clergy. Help is also available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, from the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE). If you are a military family, help and resources are available through the Family Advocacy Program (781-225-6385).
Keeping the Peace is sponsored by the Violence Prevention Coalition of Bedford, a representative group of citizens interested in ending violence in families, communities, and beyond. Dawn Shewmaker is Family Advocacy Specialist at Hanscom Air Force Base, a constituent member of VPC.
The VPC meets the first Tuesday of every other month at 8:00 a.m. at First Church of Christ Congregational, 25 the Great Road, Bedford. For more information call 781/275-7951.