Raising awareness is the first step
Editor of the Reformer:
I just read the Women’s Freedom Center’s call to raise cultural awareness about rape/domestic violence in Friday’s Reformer (April 5), and wish to add my voice to what all people of conscience should strive for, a world where all women (and people) are physically and emotionally safe.
The numbers are staggering. According to The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one woman in three in America will be a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime, and one in six will be the victim of an attempted or completed rape.
The incidence of domestic/sexual violence amongst women of poverty is even more appalling. In my 23 years of social work with homeless residents of Windham and Windsor County I have done case intakes and interviewed at least a thousand homeless women and estimate that between 60-70 percent answered yes to the question, have you ever been a victim of domestic and or sexual violence.
In many cases the domestic violence led directly to homelessness for the women and their children. Tragically, for many of these women their nightmare began in childhood when a male family member, friend of the family or baby-sitter sexually assaulted them. Often they witnessed their mother being beaten and terrorized for years. Female children growing up in these domestic war zones have a greatly increased risk of becoming adult victims; male children are prone to become adult perpetrators.
All domestic violence is unacceptable, and many of the stories are truly horrifying and chilling due to the extreme level of violence and degradation. Many victims are never able to move on and live full lives, and even those who do are scarred deeply and never forget.
I agree with the Women’s Freedom Center that what is needed is a shift in cultural consciousness. Rape and violence against women has been a dark stain on the story of human kind since the beginning of recorded history. It is most appallingly expressed during wartime, with many soldiers from the ancient to the modem world believing rape to be the prerogative of conquest.
Yes, domestic violence is primarily about power and control and in my opinion the overwhelming majority of men, particularly those who commit egregious and repetitive acts of violence against women respect and respond to just that; power and control. The judicial system owes it to the women and children, who suffer torment, often day in and day out, to put the perpetrators in jail and keep them there, where they cannot stalk, threaten and assault. Most, though not all humans, pay attention and alter their behavior in the face of real, meaningful consequences.
Brattleboro, April 9
Prevent child abuse
Editor of the Reformer:
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. I would imagine most people reading this emphatically feel that child abuse is a horrific crime. Maybe you are fortunate enough to not have had the issue of child abuse directly impact you or your family. Perhaps you don’t work in social services so you don’t think there is a lot you can do to make a difference. There are many things that can be done by concerned citizens, but I will start with a N.H. law.
Did you know that N.H. law clearly states that anyone is mandated to report child abuse/neglect if they suspect it? This lawmakes sure that people don’t assume a professional in the child’s life will pick up on your suspicion and that they will report it, but that everyone must be vigilant and do the right thing when the potential risk is so damaging.
So, what do you do? If you feel the abuse is taking place at that moment or the risk is imminent, call the local police department and report it. Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., DCYF Central Intake Unit is staffed to take these calls and pass them to the appropriate people or agencies as necessary. That number is 1-800-894-5533. It is not your job as a citizen to investigate the matter. There are people designated and trained to do that. Remember, your job is just to report it if you suspect it. Calls are confidential and can be made anonymously.
CASA of N.H.,