EDITORIAL: Support victims during Domestic Violence Awareness Month

·2 min read

Oct. 21—October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, an effort to spotlight the prevalence of violence from an intimate partner and to mobilize communities to fight against it.

Domestic violence remains a significant issue here, with severe and sometimes fatal consequences for the victim. On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the U.S.; during one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men, reports the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. One in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact sexual violence or intimate partner stalking with impacts.

There are many tangible ways to help.

One way is to support Lafayette House in Joplin and Safehouse Crisis Center in Pittsburg, Kansas, which serve victims. These two nonprofits may benefit from a mix of financial support, volunteer services and donations of in-demand items, so check with them.

Another way is to support a victim of domestic violence directly. As Susan Hickam, executive director of Lafayette House, told us: "It's a help by really opening your mind and being available to listen to someone who can identify you as a safe person."

How to do that? Some good tips to remember:

—Avoid telling the victim that she needs to leave; instead, discuss a safety plan.

—Become the victim's confidante. Listen to everything she tells you and assure her you will keep what she tells you confidential.

—Ask her what the situation is like for her. If it is safe for you to do so, offer to let her store emergency things in your home in case she needs to leave quickly.

—Encourage her to document everything that happened, including an account of how she was injured. Suggest that she get medical treatment.

—Tell the victim about local help. Lafayette House can be reached at 417-782-1772 or 800-416-1772. Safehouse Crisis Center can be reached at 800-794-9148 or 888-320-7218. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 800-799-7233.

More tips can be found at the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence website, ncadv.org.

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