No place in society

By MARY JANE ISENBERG

The Ray Rice/NFL incident has started a national discussion on the issue of domestic violence. One of the phrases being batted around is, “There is no place for this in our society.”

The sad fact of the matter is that domestic violence is in our society.

A woman is assaulted or beaten every 9 seconds in this country.

It is in our town, it is in our county, in our state and our country.

Research has shown that 25 percent of all women in this country are victims of domestic and sexual violence.

One third of women in the world are victims.

There is no place for this kind of rampant violence in our society.

For years, the excuse that nothing has been done was because this kind of crime occurred behind closed doors and out of the view of witnesses.

The most recent incident we are dealing with has been shown on national TV. We no longer can deny its existence. The vast majority of the public can no longer say they didn’t know this kind of assault existed.

To be clear, domestic violence is not an issue of anger and anger management. Domestic violence is an issue of power and control.

Abusers feel the need to control those who live in their most intimate circles. This control is often exerted physically, with broken bones, with black eyes and bruises that often cannot be seen by friends and family.

Abusers isolate their victims from friends and family and, as a result, bruises and black eyes are often not seen by anyone. Keeping this secret is how the abuser maintains control. Physical abuse is almost always accompanied by verbal and emotional abuse where victims are told that the abuse is their fault and they deserve the beating they have endured.

They are told that they are bad wives, girlfriends and partners, they can’t cook a decent meal, they are stupid and the list can go on and on.

Then people ask the question of the victim “Why did you stay?” We don’t ask the abuser “Why did you hit her?”

Women stay for many reasons including loving their partner.

The average victim leaves seven times before it is permanent. Abusers promise to never do it again, they shower the victim with gifts, flowers and lots of attention UNTIL dinner is not cooked to suit them the next time, or the laundry isn’t done or some other infraction of arbitrary rules that results in their need to once again exhibit the power and control they have over that victim.

Over time, the respite between incidents of abuse gets shorter and shorter. Often the abuse itself escalates and can involve weapons and abuse of children.

Victims learn to control their behavior in order to avoid the abuse, abusers do not learn that power and control is unacceptable behavior.

What the general public does not realize is that the most dangerous time in a battered woman’s life is when she decides to leave. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women – more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. In the U.S., more than 3 women are murdered every day by their husbands and boyfriends.

Domestic violence victims lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the U.S. alone the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs.

The cost of Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S. exceeds $5.8 billion per year in lost productivity to employers and medical costs for victims. (www.domesticviolencestatistics.org).

In addition, many victims lose their jobs due to absence from work for medical treatment and legal proceedings.

The Clinton County Women’s Center is here to help women, children and men who are victims of domestic violence.

The center offers safe shelter for victims and their children, access to legal remedies, options counseling and support, court accompaniment and a host of services to assist those who find themselves in a violent situation. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month across the United States.

You are invited to join the Clinton County Women’s Center in remembering the victims who have suffered and died at the hands of their abusers and to celebrate the triumphs of those who have gone on to lead violence free lives.

It is possible.

What we see happening in that elevator in Atlantic City does not need to happen to anyone ever again.

Please join us at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014, in Triangle Park in downtown Lock Haven to help put an end to this epidemic.

Mary Jane Isenberg is executive director of the Clinton County Women’s Center, found on-line at www.ccwcsafe.org.