Don’t Ignore Violence Next Door

Niagara Falls

The recent bombings at the Boston Marathon and last year’s elementary school shooting in Connecticut have captured people’s attention. The media have inundated us with coverage about these horrendous acts of violence. People are outraged, to the extent that no-one wanted to provide a grave site for the dead Boston bomber.

Yet another type of violent criminal that lives in almost every community often escapes any repercussions or legal responsibility. Many people forget, ignore, or maybe aren’t even aware of  the violence that happens regularly in their neighborhoods.

Maybe the three Cleveland women who escaped their kidnapper after ten years of horrible abuse have woken up some people. Maybe some people will be more alert to the signs of potential violence in their neighborhoods.

Intimate partner violence is one of the most significant violence issues in all of our communities. It may also be one of the most preventable types of violence. But prevention requires awareness and knowledge of the violence dynamics involved. It also requires action to prevent such violence or its continuation.

Many years ago, I lived two houses down from a young woman in her twenties. She was married and had a toddler. One evening, as I came home from work, I saw her in her yard.  She had a black eye and bruises on her face. She had fallen and hit her face, she said. I was a young attorney, pre-occupied with a trial, and I didn’t pursue the issue. I didn’t do anything to support her or to refer her to resources. And neither did the other neighbor who lived next door to her and who later told me she had heard her screaming. This young woman is no longer alive. Her husband shot her in their home a few years later, by accident, he said –

You can start with educating yourself on intimate partner violence issues and supporting any friend or acquaintance that you know or suspect is being abused by a partner or spouse. But bear in mind that ultimately people subjected to abuse must make their own decisions on what actions to take.

Here are some resources:

Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

MCADSV has links to local organizations and resources, such as Haven in Bozeman or the YWCA in Missoula.

Many of the organizations linked to by MCADS have tips for friends and family of people subjected to intimate partner violence, safety plan suggestions, links to legal resources and   victim advocates, and other resources. Many of these organizations provide free  and confidential support and counseling services.

Other resources:

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) OR TTY: 1-800-787-3224

National Sexual Assault Hotline (RAINN): 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

National Teen Dating Violence Hotline: 1-866-331-9474 or TTY: 1-866-331-8453

Please don’t ignore violence next door. Use the resources that are available in your communities and elsewhere.

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