There is no question that domestic violence directed against women is a serious problem. Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop has called it women’s number-one health problem. The statistics reported in the popular press are staggering: Nearly one third of women in hospital emergency departments are there due to domestic violence, three out of four female homicide victims are killed by their husbands or lovers, and 6 million women are victims of abuse by people they know each year (Journal of the American Medical Association June, 1992).
Let us begin by first defining what abuse is: abuse is the use or threat to use physical, sexual, or verbal behavior to coerce the partner to do something one wants; to degrade or humiliate; to gain or maintain a sense of power or control; to act out ones anger inappropriately. Abusive behaviors may include subtle or covert harm as well as life threatening acts of violence. Yet, it seems to be that violence against an intimate partner does not seem to be as serious as other crimes. We know this, because less than half of our states view marital rape as a crime (History of Governor’ Commission on Domestic Violence, 2001). The Governor’s Commission on Domestic Violence was established by the Weld/Cellucci administration in April 1992, shortly after domestic violence was declared a public health emergency in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Governor’s Commission on Domestic Violence leads the nation in its comprehensive and innovative approach to addressing the crime of domestic violence. Some of its many accomplishments include:
· State funding for domestic violence prevention and intervention initiatives including: resources for district attorney’s offices, battered women’s programs and emergency shelters, legal services, school based teen dating violence programs, certified batters intervention programs, and judicial training. For FY01, state funding totaled over $23.4 million dollars.
· The publication of the Annual Prevention and Intervention Plan (House 1 budget) detailing domestic violence initiatives.
· The support of progressive domestic violence legislation including Chapter 209A, stalking law, firearms legislation, and uniform enforcement of out of state restraining orders.
· The first state wide Domestic Violence Law Enforcement Guidelines.
· The publication of...
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... get the help they need. We are only failing our communities and ourselves by looking away from this social problem and leaving it to the family’s alone to solve for themselves.
The violence will not simply stop, and it will not get better. Once it starts, it will happen more often and it will get progressively worse. No matter how much a battered woman loves her partner, she should know that she is in real danger. She has to ensure her own safety. Battered women’s centers, crisis intervention services, and family crisis centers have names like Counsel for Abused Families, Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Crisis Intervention Service, or Family Help Place. Family crisis centers provide hotlines that are open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. If she cannot find a crisis center, she can call the police, sheriff, district attorneys, public library, or Salvation Army. The Salvation Army has kind and caring people who will help her without regard to her color, religion, or ethnic background. They can put her in touch with the people who can give her exactly the help she needs. A battered women must not stop until she finds that help. Her life depends on it!
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