October 24, 2011

A Call To Action To Prevent Domestic Violence

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

In recognition of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, communities across the nation have been holding events to promote awareness of domestic violence's devastating effects on families and communities and needed discussions to rid our communities of this violence that has impacted too many lives.  For example, some communities have displayed pairs of shoes representing the victims of domestic violence in the local area.  Such displays provide a powerful reminder of the lives affected by this violence.  Others have held press conferences and workshops; hosted speakers; facilitated discussions regarding intervention, response and prevention; and conducted vigils to honor domestic violence victims and celebrate survivors.  These events advance the understanding that we all have a stake in deterring domestic violence.

With millions of Americans experiencing domestic violence every year, most of us likely know someone or have been personally affected by domestic violence.  I became involved in domestic violence abuse prevention during my service in the U.S. House of Representatives, but a moving visit to a safe house in Twin Falls County, where I met young child abuse victims, further cemented my involvement in this issue.  The lasting effects of abuse on their lives touched me deeply and inspired a resolute focus on abuse prevention. 

Idaho has had eighteen domestic violence related deaths so far this year.  This means that domestic violence related fatalities have increased 61 percent in the last two years.  With so many losses and lives forever impacted, this National Domestic Violence Awareness Month provides a call to action.

We simply must look out for each other and work even harder to break the devastating cycle of abuse.  Programs are in place that support safety and healing for victims, but more must be done.  Increasing access to help lines and victims' assistance resources, enhancing community support and awareness, educating children early about domestic violence and promoting a culture that does not overlook signs of abuse will help prevent continued and future cases of domestic violence.  We can work together to counter abuse and prevent domestic violence from harming more lives. 

Ensuring that victims and families know where to turn for help is an important step in breaking the chain of abuse.  Additional information, including a list of abuse warning signs and links to other resources can be accessed through my website:  http://crapo.senate.gov/issues/crime_law_judiciary/DomesticViolence.cfm.  Help can also be accessed through the National Domestic Violence Hotline:  1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224.

I maintain hope that next year at this time, we may see advancements in efforts to decrease the prevalence of domestic violence.  As numerous Idaho governmental and nongovernmental agencies recognized in their launch earlier this month of a statewide domestic violence campaign entitled "One is Too Many:  Connect to End Domestic Violence," one victim is far too many.  Through working together to prevent family violence in all of its forms we can make progress in this effort.

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