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NOTE: For those who heard us mention the videotaping of this edition during the show, the finished video should be available soon. We'll let you know as soon as it is. We're working our way back to reguolar video produciton of TTT, both live and recorded. Thanks for your patience.
Something about the violence that occurs behind the doors of family homes has made it untouchable in our culture. The rage born of violence inflicted in the heat of arguments over money and power, usually fueled by drugs and alcohol, may have its roots in the sense of powerlessness arising from relentless unemployment or underemployment, from oppression outside the home, or from mental illness of one kind or another. Shifting such a cultural taboo from a blind eye to interventions and community responsibility has been a tough journey for women’s and children’s advocates.
One of the issues confronting them here and everywhere is the fact that most mainstream – and, certainly, the commercial media in most communities, steadfastly underreport the very real statistics surrounding societal ills as racism, poverty, discrimination, environmental injustice – and, especially, domestic violence. Wives. Mothers. Children. And some men, although rare. All face the threat of violence under conditions far too common for so-called civilized society.
Is it in the best interests of these media to underreport – or fail to report – or simply ignore these persistent social maladies because the subject makes their listeners and viewers squirm with a sense that we can do little about the treatment of women, children, and, yes, other kinds of partners? Perhaps. Making people uncomfortable can be seen as driving audiences away from their lucrative programs – so let us simply entertain – even when more honesty in their newscasts would be performing a real service.
But, another dynamic may be at work here: Domestic troubles are not seen by many as the purview of the public, even though, under any other circumstances, the sort of abuse and assault that occurs in those settings is no different from any other violence and no less subject to prosecution and conviction as very real crimes against persons.
Many still see this as between couples and their kids – as happening in some sort of sanctum sanctorum – that untouchable place for outsiders, no matter how violent – including the death(s) of (usually) the woman and/or child. And the deaths – and violence – just keep on coming…despite laws passed in most states – relatively recently – mandating law enforcement intervention even when victims change their minds about arresting and/or prosecuting their partners.
But, for women’s advocates, reauthorizing the national Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has been like pulling teeth, with most Republicans refusing to vote for it. Many Senate Republicans did vote for it, so it passed out of the Senate in April. But the House and its Republican majority has thus far refused to do so, and women’s groups oppose the House version of the bill (HR4970) because it specifically excludes from coverage Native women and gays.
But the numbers simply do not lie (statistics herewith combine federal and state data):
Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten. An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.3Existing law denies Native women equal access to justice, which is borne out by statistic after statistic: 34% of American Indian and Alaska Native women will be raped in their lifetimes; 39% will be subjected to domestic violence in their lifetimes; and on some reservations, Native women are murdered at more than ten times the national average.
Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family. One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.1One in 33 men have experienced an attempted or completed rape.2 2,542 forcible rapes were known or reported in Minnesota in 2006.10
Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. Every day in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. At least 20 Minnesota women were murdered as a result of domestic violence in 2006.11
Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually. Men who as children witnessed their parents’ domestic violence were twice as likely to abuse their own wives than sons of nonviolent parents.
At least 12 children were killed in Minnesota as a result of domestic violence or child abuse in 2006.11 37,010 women and children in Minnesota were served by battered women community advocacy programs in 2006.11 In 2006:11
_ 5,295 battered women and 5,131 children used Minnesota emergency shelter services.
_ 434 battered women and 535 children used emergency motel-hotel housing.
Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.
Ninety-two percent of women surveyed listed reducing domestic violence and sexual assault as their top concern.
Domestic violence victims lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the US alone—the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs.
Based on reports from 10 countries, between 55 percent and 95 percent of women who had been physically abused by their partners had never contacted non-governmental organizations, shelters, or the police for help.
The costs of intimate partner violence in the US alone exceed $5.8 billion per year: $4.1 billion are for direct medical and health care services, while productivity losses account for nearly $1.8 billion.
And on and on. There are more, but these are too much to take in all at once, anyway.
TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and MICHELLE ALIMORADI talk with a few of the professionals who spend or have spent whole careers trying to mitigate all this household and family terror.
REP. MICHAEL PAYMAR – Career Manager of Domestic Abuse program for Law Enforcement personnel; Coordinator of Community Responses to Domestic Abuse by key players; Counselor to men who batter