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Law Practice,
Criminal

Oct. 8, 2018

Domestic violence: A scourge that knows no boundaries

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. For years, law enforcement agencies, social service providers, non-governmental organizations, and faith-based groups have worked tirelessly to educate the public about this scourge on our society.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. For years, law enforcement agencies, social service providers, non-governmental organizations, and faith-based groups have worked tirelessly to educate the public about this scourge on our society. Violence against family members knows no boundaries. It happens in San Diego, it happens in Fresno, it happens in San Francisco. It occurs in at-risk families all too often and among members of higher social economic brackets. In short, it takes place too much and affects too many members of our society.

While the United States is an advanced industrialized economy, we are leading in the wrong kind of statistics concerning domestic violence according to Psychology Today. Every nine seconds a woman is beaten. An estimated 10 million people are abused by an intimate partner annually. In homes in which domestic violence occurs, the risk of murder increases by 500 percent. We need to reverse these trends and fast.

There is some hope. Interdisciplinary initiatives, like the San Diego Family Justice Center, bring together law enforcement officials, social service specialists, mental health providers, and medical practitioners to address victims as a whole. Working as a team, we provide a safe space for victims to get out of abusive relationships, to seek the mental health and medical treatment that starts them on the path towards healing, and to save their lives and those of their loved ones.

It is important to note that domestic violence victims are both men and women, from straight and LGBTQ communities, and from communities born in the U.S. and those who have immigrated here. The richest in our society and the poorest alike visit emergency rooms, hiding the real reason for their injuries, hoping that the pain will go away and no one will find out they are victims of domestic violence. Let's make this month about finding common ground to educate the most vulnerable in our society about how to end the cycle of violence. Today's beating will be tomorrow's strangulation. And tomorrow's strangulation, statistics show, leads to next week's murder.

Some of the newest immigrants in the United States come from countries in which domestic violence goes unreported and unpunished, and even in some countries acceptable. This, plus immigrants from some countries do not trust the authorities and, therefore, do not report when a crime occurs. Law enforcement officials do not top the list of trusted administrators of justice back home -- a cultural barrier that needs reversing stateside. It is never okay to hurt anyone, let alone a loved one. No one should be using culture or faith as a fig leaf to explain away domestic violence.

A concerted initiative to educate young people -- through their school curricula, in after school programs, and on social media -- is needed. All levels of government -- federal, state and municipal -- should be tasked with assisting in an all-out effort to ensure the next generation rejects domestic violence and embraces healthy, supportive personal relationships. Media outlets, online platforms, and our entertainment and sports icons should join together and call for an end to this societal ill. Only by working with such a broad-based coalition, can we make the strides that are required.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Wouldn't it be great if this year is the last year, and domestic violence becomes a thing of the past?

#349578

Ben Armistead


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