Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo
Between January and June of this year alone, there have been 15 intimate-partner related deaths in Idaho--11 of which were in the month of May and included three toddlers and an infant. Four of these deaths have taken place in the Pocatello area, where a community group, called Citizens Against Violence, has been organized to address this community concern. To put this number in perspective, in the entire year of 2010, there were 16 domestic violence deaths in Idaho, and there were 7 in 2009. Many lives have been cut short through heartbreaking and preventable means. We all have an individual and collective responsibility to end violence in our homes and communities.
The economic costs of domestic violence to employers, health care systems and criminal justice systems are high. The impact on children who witness domestic violence is long-lasting and, without intervention, perpetuates the cycle of domestic violence for generations. The emotional costs to families and communities who have lost lives to domestic violence are higher still.
For more than 20 years, federal programs have provided crucial investments in our communities, offering safety and healing for victims and their children by increasing offender accountability through the criminal justice system. As honorary chair of the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence, I continue to advocate for necessary resources to assist victims. The Violence Against Women Act helps victims and families by making substantial progress toward ending domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. The Victims of Crime Act also provides resources and services to victims through its Crime Victims' Fund.
Despite the successes of these programs, our individual and collective commitment to make everyone's home and community safe is needed now more than ever. We need to use our individual and collective voices to change attitudes that condone violence and take a stand against abusive behavior. Each of us has an important role in the community response to domestic violence. Taking action once we learn about abusive behaviors and reaching out to family members, neighbors, friends and co-workers who are in an abusive relationship are instrumental steps.
The number of victims requesting services increases in difficult economic times, while local resources are overstretched. We know that one-in-four American women and one-in-seven men are victims of domestic violence. However, help is available, and Idahoans care. If you have been abused by an intimate partner, or know someone who may be abused, call either 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1?800?799?SAFE (7233) or TTY 1?800?787?3224.
These tragedies in our communities are a reminder that we need to look out for each other's safety and well-being, raise awareness and increase prevention tactics. Increasing access to help lines and victims' assistance resources, as well as identifying abuse will help prevent continued and future cases of domestic violence. We do not have to accept violence in our communities. Now, more than ever, we must work together to rid our communities of this violence that needlessly destroys lives and families.
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