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EDITORIAL: Let's talk about domestic violence
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - 10/13/2021
Oct. 13—October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It's an opportunity to not just put up fliers and circulate hotline numbers, but to talk about things that are too frequently unsaid. It is a chance to say the quiet part out loud.
Domestic violence is most often equated with battered wives or girlfriends, but it is so much more than that. It is not about the relationship. It is about power. Control. The ability to make someone do something or to cower in a corner when they are guilty of a perceived wrong.
Domestic violence can happen between partners who are supposed to love and respect each other. It can happen between an adult and a child. It can happen between anyone in a household who wants to hold the reins and any other person who has to fear their pull — or their lash.
While violence is often equated with a punch or a kick, domestic violence is often more subtle. It may be a sharp word instead of a slap. It may be the choking grip of emotional abuse. It can be sexual or psychological. It can be restrictive or economic. It can be about blame for the abuser's faults or making the victim feel incompetent.
And there is no single face to those who are suffering. They are male and female, straight and gay, rich and poor. The same goes for abusers, who may be the loud drunk at the bar or the pastor in the pulpit.
What we do know is domestic violence is almost never an isolated event. It grows like an invasive plant, with a single sprig becoming roots and vines that tie a victim tighter and tighter, especially when children are involved.
In Pennsylvania, about 90,000 people a year are helped by the various local programs like the Blackburn Center in Greensburg, the Alle-
Kiski Area HOPE Center, Inc., in Tarentum or the Women's Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, agencies that provide assistance to those seeking safety from domestic abuse. In 2020, there were 2,574 people helped in a single day in Pennsylvania.
Despite that, 109 people died as a result of domestic violence in the state last year. They died at the hands of people in their lives who were supposed to be their hands to hold, not fear.
That can be changed by supporting the agencies that help the victims with donations and volunteerism and supporting the work of law enforcement agencies that intervene by letting lawmakers and officials know that combating domestic violence is a priority.
October is not the only time to be aware of domestic violence. That should happen all year long. But this is a good time to talk about it because abuse flourishes when it is ignored.
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