Break the Cycle of Domestic Violence
L.Y. Marlow was the third generation of women in her family to be a victim of domestic violence. The cycle of violence continued 22 years later, when her daughter and baby granddaughter were nearly killed by the girl’s boyfriend.
It happens often: nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. In 2017, there were 77,846 domestic violence cases in Tennessee. 70% of the people in these cases were women (source: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation). Domestic violence is not just a criminal issue; it’s also a public health issue. Consider these health implications:
- Only about a third of those injured by a partner receive medical care.
- Survivors are more at risk for mental health disorders, chronic diseases and infections.
- The annual financial cost of domestic violence is estimated to be in the trillions, from lost productivity, health care and law enforcement.
Children who grow up in violent homes are more vulnerable to social and physical problems. And learning that violence is a normal way of life increases the chances that they’ll become the next generation of victims and abusers.
So, what’s the solution? Greater awareness, prevention and action.
Awareness. October was domestic violence awareness month. But, we don’t talk about the problem nearly enough, in part because victims struggle to overcome their circumstances and can experience so much pain in telling their story.
We shouldn’t confuse or conflate domestic violence with the #MeToo movement’s exposure of and protest of sexual violence and harassment. Domestic violence is more common than sexual violence but is discussed less now than even four years ago, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Experts say that victims identify with the national #MeToo conversation, but often feel safer speaking confidentially.
Prevention. Marlow—determined to create a happy ending for her family’s story—founded Saving Promise to help break the cycle of intimate partner violence for at-risk adolescents and young adults. Locally, Bridges Domestic Violence Center— a United Way partner— helps women, men, and their children affected by domestic violence. Bridges helps ensure a safe transition to successful independent living through education, intervention, and case management.
Action. United Ways across the U.S. support organizations that help victims of domestic violence. These organizations benefit when we (1) increase overall awareness about domestic violence and (2) and take direct action in their causes and mission. Bridges welcomes volunteers in many capacities, in addition to financial support.
Marlow’s story shows that happy endings are possible. You can help create happy ending for women, men and children in our community by joining the fighting to end the cycle of domestic violence.
If you or someone you know is in need of help, call Bridges Domestic Violence Center at 615-599-5777.
Original article by Mei Cobb, Director, Volunteer & Employee Engagement at United Way Worldwide