By Lori Culver
Domestic violence is a problem that cannot be ignored. Painful acts of abuse are happening all too frequently right here in our own community, leaving victims battered and fearful, feeling trapped and hopeless. There are things we all can do to help, but first we must bring this conversation out of the shadows and into the light.
Domestic violence occurs within intimate and familial relationships in which one person uses a pattern of abuse and power to hurt and keep control over another person. Domestic violence and abuse takes many forms including physical, psychological, emotional, and financial.
Domestic violence affects one out of every three women in the United States and can happen to anyone, regardless of race, culture, class, sexual orientation, religion, level of education, or socioeconomic status. Domestic violence is a serious concern right here in our own community.
Yet, even though domestic violence is incredibly prevalent, it continues to be regarded as a private matter and something to be kept secret. As a result, those living in violent situations are often left bearing shame, guilt and community stigma. Family members and friends are left feeling hopeless and unequipped with the necessary information and tools to reach out and lend support. This is an issue that affects us all.
Consider the following:
• Youth growing up in violent homes are more likely than others to have behavioral problems. In addition, they are more likely to partake in risky behaviors such as gang involvement, drugs, and sexual assault crimes.
• In the U.S., healthcare costs associated with domestic violence total $5.8 billion annually. Loss of job productivity due to domestic violence costs $728 million every year.
Do you think domestic violence is not your issue, or that people in your life are not affected? Think again. Because domestic violence happens in so many relationships and families, it is likely that someone you know has or is currently experiencing abuse, even if they do not talk to you about it.
The Eatonville Family Agency is here to help. If you recognize yourself or someone you know as being abused, reach out. The first step is seeking help. If you do not come forward we cannot act. The Family Agency advocate can be reached during regular office hours at (360) 832-6805 or any time 24/7 on the hotline at (253) 948-8184
As a community member, you can help victims of domestic violence, too. Speak up. If you suspect someone you know might be suffering from abuse, reach out to them and show you care. Lend comfort and support by offering temporary shelter or transportation to a safe place. Call the 24-hour hotline, and we will listen. Our domestic violence advocate can help create a safety plan, transport victims to safe shelters, give emergency rations, provide referrals to legal and mental counseling and much more. And most importantly, in an emergency call 9-1-1 immediately.
Donations are needed to support this important work. Immediate funds are required for upcoming domestic violence training classes in addition to items for victims such as gas cards, motel vouchers, transportation, and personal care products.
Donations can be made at Eatonville Family Agency, located in the Eatonville Community Center at 305 Center St. W. Be sure to indicate “DV” when making your donation.
We all can play a role in aiding victims of domestic violence by creating opportunities for our family, friends, and neighbors to seek support and share what is happening in their homes and in their relationships. Everyone deserves to be safe.
Lori Culver is executive director of Eatonville Family Agency.