So when we think of domestic violence and where it occurs the first places that come to mind are often in other parts of the world. As a student of international affairs or just a daily subscriber to the New York Times, myself and others often first thing of the women in Afghanistan and the prevalence of self-immolation or we think of Egypt where their criminal code states that if a woman has been beaten with “good intentions” not punitive damage can be obtained. Or maybe what comes to mind are the women in China being beaten because they failed to give their husbands sons and instead gave birth to a child of no value- a baby girl. But do we really think about its existence inside our own borders? Do we consider it of no issue here because it does not appear on the front page of our local newspapers and news stations on T.V.? My point here is that it is important for us not to forget that even though it is not all over the news or reported on as often as the devastating incidents of family violence abroad, we cannot about its existence here, at home.
While self-immolation and honor killings are neither legal nor common occurrences here in the U.S. we cannot be mistaken into believing that domestic violence is not a problem that we face here in the United States and even in our own communities. I would like to take this opportunity to remind the people of my community, state and nation that domestic violence has been and continues to be not just a problem abroad but an issue at home as well– an issue that desperately needs to be more seriously addressed.
I spent the summer working with victims of domestic violence and have come to learn so much more about the complexities of family violence: who abusers are, why they abuse, why women stay with their abusers, and the impacts of domestic violence on a society. While I have learned so much through my experiences, I alone cannot change a problem so deeply embedded in the roots of my own community, but I can help bring awareness to facilitate this change by educating others on the prevalence of family violence in our own backyard. On a large-scale it is estimated that between “22% and 29% of American women will be assaulted by an intimate partner in their lifetime” (Iverson, Shenk, Fruzzetti, 2009: 242). While this statistic is useful I want to magnify the picture even more because I want the people around me to feel personally moved by the issue of domestic violence in our own society. Furthermore, lets take a moment to focus on Texas.
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, in 2009, there were 196,713 family violence incidents reported. Let me emphasize that this is the number of reported incidents, which means this number does not account for the large number of incidents that occurred but have gone undocumented by the state. In 2012, the Brazos County Coalition Against Domestic Violence published statistics gathered from a 2002 statewide poll conducted by the Texas Council on Family Violence, which indicated the following:
- While 75% of Texans would like to call the police if they experienced domestic violence, only 20% indicated that they or a fiend actually did call the police when domestic violence was experienced
- 74% of all Texans report that they, a family member or a friend has experienced some form of domestic violence
- 31% of all Texans report that they have been severely abused at some point in their lifetime
The Texas Department of Public Safety and The Texas Council on Family Violence has also released that in 2009, 111 women and six children were killed as a result of domestic violence or dating violence in Texas and 108 children lost one or both their parents (Statistics provided from The Brazos County Coalition Against Violence, 2012).
These numbers are outrageous and also not common knowledge. Now while I would not expect these exact statistics to be common knowledge, I find that when I share this information with my peers their reaction is always that of complete surprise. Yes, my fellow Texans, domestic violence is a problem here at home as well and it is a problem that we cannot hope to fix without awareness. Non-profits do all that they can to serve our local victims of domestic violence and to educate both the victims and communities on the issue of family violence in hopes of preventing continuance of the cycle. However, access to schools is still limited, volunteers are cyclical, resources are scarce, and political action is limited. But if more people in our own back yard are educated on the occurrence of domestic violence in our community and if more of our citizens feel moved enough to join the cause than we can create change and we can address this issue more effectively than what we see happening today. My goal here is to spread the word and to encourage you to take action in your own communities to help bring awareness to the cause. Domestic violence is not just a problem abroad, it is happening in our own country and we have the power to help eradicate it in our own communities and the first step is awareness.
“Domestic Violence in Brazos Valley and Beyond Facts & Figures.” 2012., Brazos County Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Fruzzetti, A., Iverson K.M., & Shenek, C. Dialectical Behavior “Therapy for Women Victims of Domestic Abuse: A Pilot Study.” American Psychological Association. 2009.