In 2009, I wrote about domestic violence prompted by Lisa Bonney’s tragic death in Pacific County. Similarly, in 2011, my colleague wrote about domestic violence protection orders prompted by Rebbecca Dietz’s tragic death in Grays Harbor County. By all accounts these women were well liked by friends and beloved by their families. Even if they were not all of these wonderful things, no one deserves what happened to these women, and what is happening every day to others.
Statistically, domestic violence has touched someone you know. In 2011, 47,444 domestic violence offenses were reported in Washington, including 612 in Grays Harbor and 152 in Pacific. Many cases are unreported.
Do not turn a blind eye. I prefer not to wait for another tragedy to be prompted to action.
In addition to assault, rape and murder in the name of “love,” the profound mental torture through control, mind games and manipulation leave equally damaging and permanent scars. (Domestic violence includes a broader legal definition, which may include those who share a residence, but are not romantically involved, past or present).
From the Washington State Domestic Violence Fatality Report, in 2011:
• 61 people died; 42 by their domestic abusers.
• 13 abusers committed murder-suicide.
• 83% of victims killed by partners were women; 17% men.
• Three domestic violence fatality cases involved same-sex partners.
• The youngest victim, killed by her boyfriend, was 13 years old.
• The oldest victim, killed by his wife, was 83 years old.
• 17 children witnessed a domestic violence murder.
• In at least 55% of homicides by abusers, the victim had left the abuser or was trying to leave.
Statistics are especially troubling with regard to specific populations. For instance, children are often victims and witnesses to domestic violence, e.g., between 1997 and 2011, 38 victims killed by husbands and boyfriends were un-der 21 years of age. Another example, intimate partner homicides involving Native American women are 2.8 percent higher than for white non-Hispanics.
Domestic violence is a serious problem in our society. It comes in many forms—from rape and sexual abuse to physical abuse and insidious mental and emotional abuse to exposure of this violence to the children in the home and related child abuse and molestation. Domestic violence dynamics create an environment of fear and control often by limiting a victim’s activities through intimidation and restricting access to social and financial resources. While females are far more often the victims, both males and females can be victims or perpetrators. Victims are at greater risk of becoming future perpetrators or repeat victims (we have a strong tendency to attract what we know, even if it is something dangerous), all of which will continue the cycle of violence for generations.
If you know or suspect someone to be a victim of domestic violence, or if you are a victim, there are excellent resources available. Local support, in particular, can help victims (who can become survivors) form a safety plan to get themselves (and their children) out of harm’s way, including domestic violence protection orders, as well as access to family resources, counseling, etc.
• Domestic Violence Center of Grays Harbor County / (800) 818-2194
• Crisis Support Network in Pacific County / (800) 435-7276 / www.crisis-support.org
• Children’s Advocacy Center / (800) 959-1467
• Washington State Domestic Violence Hotline / (800) 562-6025
• Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence / www.wscadv.org
To find out if you are eligible for Northwest Justice Project services:
For cases including youth (Individualized Education Program and school discipline issues), debt collection cases and tenant evictions, please call for a local intake appointment Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at (360) 533-2282 or toll free (866) 402-5293. No walk-ins, please.
For all other legal issues, please call our toll-free intake and referral hotline commonly known as “CLEAR” (Coordinated Legal Education Advice and Referral) at 1-888-201-1014, Mondays through Fridays 9:10 a.m. to 12:25 p.m. If you are a senior, 60 and over, please call 1-888-387-7111; you may be eligible regardless of income. Language interpreters are available. You can also complete an application for services at http://nwjustice.org/get-legal-help.