****Updated Wednesday, October 21st In Observance Of Domestic Violence Month****
In October, many change the color of their newspapers and websites pink, wear pink ribbons, do walks and rallies etc to raise awareness for Breast Cancer, but often what gets overshadowed is, October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. And while we too changed our colors pink and support Breast Cancer Awareness, domestic violence has to be addressed because it is a growing issue nationwide, but especially in the black community. Since many do not know October is also Domestic Violence Awareness month, lets start of with a little history about it.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month evolved from the first Day of Unity observed in October, 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The intent was to connect battered womens advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children. The Day of Unity soon became a special week when a range of activities were conducted at the local, state, and national levels.
In October 1987, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed. That same year the first national toll-free hotline was begun. In 1989 the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month Commemorative Legislation was passed by the U.S. Congress. Such legislation has passed every year since with NCADV providing key leadership in this effort. For more information on the NCADV check their website, NCADV.org. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233 | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)
Black Westchester re-posts an article on Domestic Violence, our publisher wrote earlier in the year in observation of Domestic Violence Awareness Month!
Our Political leaders, Law Enforcement Management and Community Leaders need to focus resources on Domestic Violence cases and prevention. Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound someone.
Domestic violence does not discriminate. It happens to individuals, male or female, of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion, educational level, or socioeconomic background. It can happen to couples who are married, living together, who are dating and it can happen to children. An intimate partner annually in the United States physically assaults approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men. A majority of studies reveal there are adult and child victims in 30 to 60 percent of families experiencing domestic violence.
While the media generally focuses on high incarceration rates, the education attainment gap, and violent crime in black communities, it is unfortunate that domestic violence has rarely been discussed in the black community, until recently.
It is a disservice to our community to only discuss the issue of domestic violence only on a certain month of the year or when an incident like Ray Rice or Chris Brown takes national attention.Domestic violence is not only as much of a problem in the black community as it is across the nation, but it’s a bigger problem, more frequent and more lethal in than any other community. Continuous dialogue and prevention should be ongoing to confront this unpublicized cancer in our community.
Why are their higher rates in the black community? In part, the same old reasons: poverty (intimate partner violence is more frequent among those with lower incomes); un-and-underemployment (it’s more frequent when the male partner is unemployed/underemployed); and housing disparities (it’s more common in couples living in poor neighborhoods).
In 2005, African-Americans accounted for nearly a third of the intimate-partner homicides. There have only been few studies that have addressed the issue of domestic violence in the black community. A study published in 2000 reported that Black females experienced intimate partner violence at a rate 35% higher than that of white females, and about 22 times the rate of women of other races. In 2005, black women accounted for 22% of the intimate partner homicide victims and 29% of all female victims of intimate partner homicide.
Black men are also affected. The same 2000 study found that Black males experienced intimate partner violence at a rate about 62% higher than that of white males and about 22 times the rate of men of other races. Black men are also more likely than white men to be killed by their partners, though at a lower rate than black women. In 2005, black women were 2.4 times more likely than a black male to be murdered by their partners. In 2002, the number one killer of African-American women ages 15 to 34 was homicide at the hands of a current or former intimate partner.
Surviving in an abusive relationship of ANY kind is puzzlement to people on the outside, but there are specific reasons why someone ‘allows’ this or cannot find a way out. The first step is for the person involved in an abusive relationship on any level to see the pattern and want to change it. Relationship Experts say that Low Self Esteem, Denial, Financial Dependency, the Children, and Church Values are reasons why someone in an abusive relationship will stay in the relationship. Until the victim recognizes that the cycle needs to be broken, there is only support that can be given but the ultimate change has to come from within the abused person. The person who suffers abuse must take charge and decide to break the pattern or the pattern will continue.
We all can assist victims of Domestic Violence victims no matter what color, race or economic status they are. There is no way to tell for sure if someone is experiencing domestic violence. Those who are battered, and those who abuse, come in all personality types. The victims are not always passive with low self-esteem, and batterers are not always violent or hateful to their partner in front of others. Most people experiencing relationship violence do not tell others what goes on at home. Domestic violence often starts with threats, name-calling, and slamming doors or breaking dishes and it builds up to pushing, slapping, and other violent acts.
If you feel that you’re a victim of Domestic violence call 911 and report the incident. Write down the police report/incident number and keep with your records. If necessary, seek medical attention. Have injuries documented and photographed. Go to a safe place such as a domestic violence shelter or a family member’s home. Seek the support of caring people. Tell someone you trust about the abuse. They may be your friend, a family member, a neighbor, a co-worker, or staff members of support agencies. Talk to them in a private, safe place. You do not need to face abuse alone. File for a Protective Order that will tell your abuser to stay away.
When you decide to get help, find a support system that works for you. A trusted friend, family member, or professional can help you devise a safety plan and find a safe place for you to stay, if necessary.
If you are a victim of abuse, you are not alone. You have the right to be safe! You are not responsible for violent behavior! No one deserves to be beaten or threatened! Domestic violence destroys the home. The responsibility for the violence belongs to the abuser. It is not the victim’s fault!
We must all demonstrate a clear recognition that domestic violence exists on an incomprehensible level that is completely unacceptable. There must be a desire to confront this issue and enact laws that deter abusers and support victims. As a national organization of law enforcement professionals, we demand harder sentencing and laws against these abusers. Unless and until we all make this commitment— we will continue to read and hear about the tragedies of domestic violence in the communities of Westchester.
Police Commissioner William J. Bratton presided over the 13th annual Domestic Violence Training Conference Tuesday in the auditorium at One Police Plaza. The conference brought together members of the Department as well we outside collaborators to review new statutes related to domestic violence; discuss ways to investigate domestic violence related crimes such as stalking, aggravated harassment and orders of protection; and it provided an opportunity for police personnel to network with each other and those agencies and organizations dedicated to combating domestic violence.
We need to have this in Westchester County and every urban neighborhood nationwide. We need to call our elected officials to ensure they implement training in our police departments and then stay on our police commissioners to make sure this isn’t just another formality or something to do to say they did it but truly becomes part of police policy.
For more information on the NCADV check their website, NCADV.org. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233 | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)