Domestic Violence: Most Underreported Crime In America

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Found at the scene of the crime two dead bodies stabbed brutally, and left to die at their house. This was the story that shocked the country in 1991. This was the start of the O.J. Simpson domestic abuse case. Unfortunately events like this happen many times over everyday in many setting all over the United states; however the victims of the other cases don't get nearly as much publicity.

Some facts about domestic abuse:

     An average of nine out of 10 women have to be turned away from shelters
on.
     The reason so few cases get assigned initially is the police usually
don't have enough officers to meet the demand
     At the Portland Women's Crisis Line, where calls have doubled since the
killings of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman, they welcome the increased
attention.

From July 19,through March 31, 1993 a total of 3,665 domestic violence
cases were reviewed in Portland Oregon. Of those, only 281 cases resulted in
some action taken against the accused abuser. Some of this is because there is
not enough police, but it is mostly because the abused person is scared.
For the last six months of 1993 and the first three months of 1994
Portland averaged about 1,000 calls each month or 12,000 calls a year.
     In January 1992, 30 criminal domestic violence complaints were issued.
For January 1994, the number was more than 100.
     Nationally, estimates range from 2 to 4 million women assaults each year.

Some studies show that 20 to 30 percent of all women who seek help at
hospital emergency rooms are there because of domestic violence.


Kyra Woods never made it to the emergency room. Whoever killed her saw to
that. She suffered 13 stab wounds to the back five of them so violent the knife
came out the other side of her body.
Wood's mother, Mable, and two aunts wept quietly in a back row of the
courtroom as the prosecution argued against bail for Woods' former boyfriend
Jackson. Rod Underhill, the prosecutor, painted a picture of domestic violence.
He told of a dramatic moment after the killing, when Woods' 4-year-old son,
holding a teddy bear, re- enacted the attack. "He put his hands around the neck
of the bear and shook it," Underhill said. "He began to pound it with a closed
fist and slug it."
Mable Woods said that her daughter never told her much about any abuse.
Neighbors, however, told police of hearing the couple fight violently. According
to police reports, one neighbor said, "They fought so hard the pictures on the
wall shook back and forth.

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"
Jackson has pleaded innocent. His attorney, Angel Lopez, points out that no
murder weapon has been found. He said the account from the 4-year-old boy could
not be matched with any others, and he pointed out inconsistencies in the boy's
statements. Bail was denied.
Jackson was accused of killing his former girlfriend, Kyra Woods, by
stabbing her 13 times. His bail hearing normally would have merited little
public attention. What brought out the cameras and reporter was the Simpson case.
     Children are often the unseen victims of domestic abuse. they see one
of their parents being harmed and this leads to high stress. Boys tend to be
much more hostile when raised in a broken home. They are also ten times more
likely to be abusive when they grow up. Girls raised in an abusive family tend
to be very shy and afraid of boys. When they grow up they are 50 times more
likely to marry an abusive husband.
     The effect of domestic abuse on society is negative, but unfortunately
it does not get much publicity unless it involves a figure that is well known
such as O.J. Simpson. Another sad thing is that people often shrug off domestic
abuse calling it a personal matter because they don't want to get involved or
they are afraid of what people will think about them
Survivors have found the emotional strength to break from their abusers
through different means: a hot-line number remembered from a restroom wall, a
wallet card of crisis numbers from a pediatrician who would not overlook a
mother's black eye. A grown child begging her mother to flee--and a shelter with
an open bed.
     The women, some with their identities changed to protect their privacy,
talked about shame, guilt, fear of triggering even greater violence, low self-
worth, isolation, embarrassment, numbing depression, concern for children,
foiled escapes, a unrealistic sense of reality, a walking-on-eggshells existence
and, perhaps above all, an illogical hope that something would change.
"the abuser can make everything sound so good," says Florence A. Reid, 45,
now living in transitional housing through Bradley- Angle House after 10 years
in a violent marriage and another 13 year relationship, in an abusive
relationship both with men who were full of promises after the pummelings.
Even now, 25 years later, after dozens of broken ribs, a broken jaw, pushes
downstairs, and out a car, and thrice-weekly bouts with her husband sometimes
drunk, sometimes sober--kicking with his work boots as she lay on the floor;
even now, Reid has pipe dreams of living happily with this teen-age love, of
sitting on a front porch and talking about the old days.
"Wouldn't that be nice?" asks Reid. "Just live a normal life with the
father of my children."
"The first time I tried leaving my husband was 1972. I took the kids to a
friend's house," she remembers. "He found me and brought a gun with him. Of
course, I just went back."
In 1992, after dozens of tries, Ruth left for the last time, with the help
of a daughter, and ended up at West Women's & Children's Shelter.
Ruth, who now works part-time at a bank, sighs. "I don't know. For years,
my excuse was the kids. And of course, I realize that was probably the worst
thing I did for them. And I always thought, `Things will get better if I do
this.'"
Other women clung to similar fantasies, sure the goodness and charm would
return--if they could love him better, do everything right. When someone abuses
another person they often have a certain attitude such as thinking that it is
the abused persons fault and that they brought it upon themselves. extensive
studies have shown this. The abuser often blames the person who was abused for
their troubles. Abusers often have a hard time communicating. Unfortunately the
abuser is rarely gets action taken against them. But when they do it is often
very serious. The least that could happen is that the abuser gets a restraining
order. In more serious cases there can be a number of penalties ranging from
short prison term to a life sentence. As you can see some of these facts are rather grim
but people are becoming more open to ideas and people are reporting more than
ever. I hope that this stops being the most unreported crime in the United
States so that we can get the problem under control.


Bibliography

Breiner, S., Slaughter of the Innocents (1990);

deMause, L., The History of Childhood (1988);

Kempe, H., and Helfer, R., The Battered Child, 4th ed. (1987);

Kempe, Ruth S. and C. Henry, Sexual Abuse of Children and Adolescents
(1984);

Moorehead, C., ed., Betrayal (1990); Wexler, R., Wounded Innocents
(1990).

Domestic Abuse Metro Nashville Police Department Evaluation of the
"Surviving Together" Support Group for Women and Children (Women's Group)

For Health and Community Services July 1995 By Christine Szikla

EASTWOOD, S. "Parenting After The Violence" in Parent Help Program: News &
Information Number 8, November 1992, The Australian Council for Educational
Research Limited, Hawthorn: Victoria. (p.4)

WARD, J. How to Research Community Issues: The Grounded Community
Development Research Method. Partnership Press in Association with
Deakin University, Melbourne: 1993.


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