Wednesday, October 12, 2011

we are topeka

image from the blog OABI (Organization for Abuse and Battered Individuals)

I don't write that post title as a badge of solidarity honor, but as one of shame.

Do you know what's going on in Topeka? No? I'm not surprised. The news from that city didn't make this morning's cut for news on CNN or NPR, the first sources of my household's news day. There was no mention in the morning paper. The New York Times carries the story in the "US News" section, seen as less important or significant than Romney's performance in the most recent debate, the standoff in NBA negotiations, and an alleged plot of a foreign government to assassinate a diplomat from another foreign government on US soil.  I'm really worked up about that last one.

Let me bring you up to date. Last night Topeka repealed its domestic violence ordinance. The reporting is a little unclear about this, but I think that although it's still not legal to beat up your wife, husband, partner, sibling, child or parent, there will be no arrests, charges or prosecutions of these crimes. Blame it all on a budget crisis. Apparently it's too costly to prosecute these crimes, and the case load for felonies and some other misdemeanors, like shoplifting, is high. Tell that to the 35 or more victims of domestic violence in Topeka in the last six weeks (that's almost one per day, reported). Tell that to their children and their loved ones. Tell them that the violence perpetrated against them costs too much for them to be considered a priority for justice and protection. A 10% across-the-board budget cut means don't cut salaries or perks, instead leave vulnerable women and families at greater risk of losing their lives.

I'm not being dramatic, I'm outraged. I'm ranting here because our culture has been silent too long on this subject. The painful irony of this action in Topeka is that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Most of us, myself included, don't have the numbers committed to memory but I'll be glad to review them for everyone's sake.*
  • 1 in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. 1 in every 4, people.
  • An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.
  • 85% of domestic violence victims are women.
  • Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police.
  • Charges of assault against perpetrators are more like to cause an escalation in violence on the part of the perpetrator.
  • Boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults.
  • Nearly one-third of female homicide victims that are reported in police records are killed by an intimate partner. 
  • The cost of intimate partner violence exceeds $5.8 billion each year, $4.1 billion of which is for direct medical and mental health services. 
  • There are 16,800 homicides and $2.2 million medically treated injuries due to intimate partner violence annually, costing $37 billion. 
  • Domestic Violence cuts across all socio-economic, racial, ethnic and religious lines.
Why should this be the lead story on every newscast today? Because to say nothing is to suggest that this action is acceptable. To say nothing doesn't help those 1 in 4, or worse, the victims who don't report their abuse. And lest you think this is only about victims, the syndrome of domestic violence won't cease or lessen when the perpetrators don't get help.

Get mad with me. Be outraged. Speak out. Stand up for the victims and demand justice and protection. Together we can change the statistics.

One. In. Four. Are you okay with that?

Learn more
*source: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:


Diane Walker said...

This is so disturbing. It is as if, in an economic crunch, the first to be sacrificed will be the gentler, more feminine aspects of life -- women, children, art -- suddenly everything is about money and power. Or maybe it always was, and they were just sharing the wealth for a while...


The Bug said...

Diane - I definitely think it was the latter - thowing bones while they had them.

Grrr - it really is astounding to me how little sense & sensibility people have. They're not saving money - they're shifting the burden to other sectors. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

This is terrible. Thanks for posting this. Family violence is often found in the histories of those who commit other crimes, are homeless and addicted. What a shortsighted approach!

Anonymous said...

This is terrible. Thanks for posting this. Family violence is often found in the histories of those who commit other crimes, are homeless and addicted. What a shortsighted approach!

Kip said...

It's beyond rediculous!


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