By: Judge Zack Dolyk
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. People are encouraged to wear purple ribbons as a symbol of their stand against domestic violence.
Domestic violence is a misdemeanor of the first degree carrying a maximum jail sentence of six months and up to a $1000.00 fine. Once a person is convicted of domestic violence any subsequent domestic violence charges automatically become felonies with a possible prison sentence. Domestic violence impacts people of all ages, ethnicities, and incomes. The Center for Disease Control estimates that one in four women will experience domestic violence within their life time; it also impacts one in seven men. Domestic violence is not about strength or the ability of one person to physically harm another; domestic violence is about power and control.
Domestic violence is the 7th leading cause of premature death in women. Approximately, 40 – 54% of American female homicide victims are killed by a husband, boyfriend, or former intimate partner. This is nine times the rate of homicides perpetrated by a stranger.
It is important to educate everyone about risk factors for domestic violence. If we know what to look for, we can predict when violence will escalate to the point of putting someone in grave danger. When the violence escalates, when it is coupled with rage and jealousy, when an abusive partner suffers from mental illness or substance abuse problems, something must be done to prevent further harm. Indeed, of all the risk factors identified by Dr. Jacqueline Campbell, a leading researcher at Johns Hopkins University, consider the following startling statistics:
- When there is violence in a relationship, strangulation is one of the most telling risk factors. Of women who were killed by a perpetrator, 50% had experienced strangulation at the hands of their abusive partner within the year prior to their death.
- Abusive perpetrators who own guns are 5.5 times more likely to kill their partners than abusive men who do not own a gun. 57.4% of homicides are committed with a gun.
- Domestic violence impacts the whole family. Between 30% and 60% of homes where domestic violence is present, child abuse also occurs.
- It isn’t as simple as “just leaving”. Women are more at risk of lethal or near-lethal assault within one year of ending an abusive relationship. The first three months are especially dangerous.
Domestic violence victims do best when they have someone who can help them plan for a safe separation. Locally, domestic violence victims may contact Safe harbor at 4 419-626-2200 or Lorain County Safe Harbor/Genesis House at 1 866-213-1188. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1 800-799-SAFE.