Stop the Cycle of Violence!
I don’t know if many of you in this community know that there is a problem with domestic violence within the town and county, but there is. A few years back right here in Blanco, Texas a young girl lost her life to it. It happened to one of my family members and no one should have to live in that kind of horror.
We need tough law enforcement, aggressive prosecutions, effective prevention programs and available shelters for families in distress. Most importantly, we need to ensure that more people know and understand that domestic violence is not a private matter. It is a criminal matter that affects us all in every community. Tough new laws are one way to reduce domestic violence. Nothing sends a clearer message to a wife-beater than prosecuting and jailing other wife-beaters (Department of Justice statistics). Too many people continue to believe that domestic violence is a private matter between a couple, rather than a criminal offense that merits a strong and swift response. Even today, the victim of a domestic assault runs the risk of being asked, “What did you do to make your husband angry?” This question implies the victim is to blame for this abuse and they aren’t. People in our criminal justice system – police, prosecutors, judges, and jurors – need to be educated about the role they can play in curbing acts of domestic violence. And not have one judge set bond high and another lower it.
What Can Communities do to Prevent Domestic Violence?
Expand education and awareness efforts to increase positive attitudes toward nonviolence and encourage individuals to report family violence. Form task forces to assess the problem, develop an action plan, and monitor progress. Mandate training in domestic violence for all social services and criminal justice professionals. Advocate laws and judicial procedures at the state and local levels that support and protect battered women. Establish centers where visits between batterers and their children may be supervised, for the children’s safety. Fund shelters adequately. Recruit and train volunteers to staff hotlines, accompany victims to court, and provide administrative support to shelters and victim services. Call the police if you see or hear evidence of domestic violence. Take action personally against domestic violence when a neighbor, a co-worker, a friend, or a family member is involved or being abused. Encourage your neighborhood watch or block association to become as concerned with watching out for domestic violence as with burglaries and other crimes. Reach out to support someone whom you believe is a victim of domestic violence and/or talk with a person you believe is being abusive.
Where Can You Get Help?
Nationwide, 24-hour, toll-free domestic violence hotline. The number is 1-800-799-SAFE and the TDD number for the hearing impaired is 1-800-787-3224.
Janet Metcalf, Blanco, TX