One in four women, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has experienced domestic violence.
It doesn’t matter what color a woman is, what church or temple she attends, how old she is, or how many degrees she has or hasn’t earned: Domestic violence doesn’t respect differences; it rages through every corner of society.
And escaping its wrath isn’t easy.
Often women are in the most danger immediately after leaving, or threatening to leave, a violent relationship, according to the Virginia Department of Health: The most commonly reported factor leading to adult intimate partner homicide cases is the break-up of the relationship.
When an abuser loses power, or control over a victim, then that abuser might stop at nothing to regain it.
In Virginia alone, nearly a third of the murders committed in 2009 were related to domestic violence, according to the Attorney General’s Annual Report on Domestic and Sexual Violence in Virginia.
And 1 in 4 domestic violence homicides were committed in the presence of children.
Although domestic violence can also affect men, the majority of its victims (85 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Justice) are women.
Ideally, law enforcement, social services, schools and other community organizations will work together to provide services such as counseling, emergency housing, court advocacy and financial assistance. These services can literally save a victim’s life, by enabling her to leave a situation that is going from bad to worse.
There are a lot of reasons why women have a hard time leaving abusive partners, and many of these involve the challenges of starting over, of creating a stable, secure life. Often when a woman separates from her abusive partner, she is giving up her home and financial security. She may need to find a job, organize child care and pay a deposit for a new place to live.
Goochland’s Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office organized a multidisciplinary domestic violence team, coordinated by Jerry Jones, about a year ago. This team is working with other professionals from fields as diverse as domestic violence advocacy, crisis intervention, law enforcement and community services.
Together, this team coordinates response efforts for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
The Goochland Gazette thanks the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, the Sheriff’s Office, the Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services, and every other organization and individual that is striving to free women from fear.
For more information about domestic violence, visit the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence website at www.vsdvalliance.org. To find out about services in your area, call the Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault 24-Hour Hotline at 1-800-838-8238.