One of America’s Best Kept Dirty Little “Secrets”

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It can happen to anyone!! Young, old; rich, poor; Protestant, Catholic, atheist; it knows not the boundary of neighborhood good or bad; white, black, yellow, brown, green-it knows not the difference of color although it prefers African Americans who are poor; male or female it makes no difference although it prefers females between the age of 16-24. Eighty five to ninety percent of the victims are female who more than likely know their attacker. It is estimated that it causes 25% of workplace problems like absenteeism, lower productivity, and excessive medical benefits use to the tune of more than $5.8 billion annually. Seventy eight percent of all Human Resource Directors recognize it as a substantial employee problem. It costs corporate America $1.8 billion in lost productivity. Eight million man days of paid work and 5.6 million man days of household work are lost annually. It is the largest cause of injury to middle aged women but it happens to men as well. It is estimated that between 3.3 million and 10 million children see it annually. Twenty two percent of middle class divorces are caused by it. It affects every fabric of our society-it knows no limits. It is also estimated that nearly 50 percent of all suspected cases go unreported. But I guess domestic violence in America is really not that important or cost enough in economic or social terms or you would hear more about it. I mean after all is said and done ninety percent of family violence defendants are never prosecuted. One out of three women report some form of physical or sexual abuse in their lives most often a member of her own family. Maybe that’s not enough. Every year four to six million cases of physical violence occur in intimate relationships. Maybe that’s not enough. And remember only fifty percent of cases are reported. Police respond differently to domestic violence calls than to other calls. Women in jail for a killing in a domestic disturbance get sentenced an average of 15 years while men get an average of 2-6 years. In 1990 there were 3800 animal shelters and 1500 shelters for battered women. Why is there such a double standard or no standard? Indeed it is a very complicated issue that we are not going to solve today right here and now. But the laws on domestic violence need to change, society’s view of the problem has to change, and until that happens domestic violence as we know it will continue to flourish and grow. In the meantime women would be well advised to be prepared and consider what to do in an emergency. There are a multitude of resources on the local, state and federal level available, but in the end it is going to fall on your shoulders to arm yourself with the tools for self defense or survival. Those tools might include developing some knowledge of warning signs; learning some techniques on self defense; carrying some non-lethal self defense weapons; developing a workplace and personal safety plan. Don’t rely on someone else. You are the one that will make a difference!

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