By Ana Martinez-OrtizDomestic violence is not an individual issue, it’s a public health one. With that in mind, it’s up to the community to end domestic violence. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Earlier this week, Milwaukee residents were encouraged to wear purple in honor of those who had been abused, lost their lives to abuse or are currently being abused.
“Domestic violence is a critically important issue to address and it is at the root of many problems that afflict our city,” said Mayor Tom Barrett.
It’s an issue that can only be solved if every resident take a stand, Barrett said. Raising awareness is only the first step, the second is finding a solution. In Milwaukee, 40 percent of homicides were linked to domestic violence. According to Barrett, one out every three women is going to be raped, experience physical violence or be stalked by an intimate acquaintance.
This number needs to be reduced, Barrett said. In most situations, a partner is not the only one being abused. According to Barrett, 15.5 million children in the world are exposed to domestic violence either as victims or witnesses.
“We all need to take action and be a voice for the survivors,” Barrett said.
National Domestic Violence Awareness month began in 1981 when the Coalition Against Domestic Violence held a day of unity, Barrett explained. Its purpose was to connect advocates from around the nation. From there the day evolved into a month.
Karen Tyler from the Office of Violence Prevention is a victim of domestic abuse.
“I found a way out even when it scared me to go,” she said.
Wearing purple is a sign of solidarity, she explained. It’s a symbol to all those still suffering at the hand of their abuser that they are not alone. Sadly, not all victims will survive domestic abuse. Children as young as two months old to adults as old as 88 years old have died as a result of domestic abuse.
When it comes to domestic violence, anyone can be a victim. LaVerne Badger, the founder of Let’s Talk, was a victim of abuse for 13 years. Domestic abuse has no gender or bias, Badger said. It does not care how much money a person has or what their background looks like. Domestic violence is about power and exerting control over another individual, Badger said.
There needs to be a solution and men, who are often seen as the abusers, need to be a part of solving the issue. There needs to be a space created where men can take part, she said.
“There is not going to be a solution if we do not include men,” Badger said.
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, females generally bear the brute when it comes to intimate partner violence. Approximately 24.3 percent of females 18 and over will experience intimate partner violence. Among men, that number comes down to 13.8 percent. However, nearly half of all women and men have been psychologically abused by their partner.
“Men have to join women in addressing this issue,” Barrett said.
It needs to be taught and reinforced, starting at a young age that violence is not the issue.
“Boys do not hit girls and men do not hit women,” Barrett said, addressing the male residents of Milwaukee.
Mariana Rodriguez of the UMOS Latina Resource Center wants victims and survivors to know that they are not alone. If they need help or resources, it will be provided.
“You are not alone,” she said. “We believe you.”
Violence in the home can lead to violence throughout the city. As Badger put it, a solution is within grasp but now it’s up to everyone no matter their gender, economic background or race to band together. It’s time to domestic violence end.
If you are experiencing domestic violence please call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. The line is available 24/7 every single day. You can also visit www.thehotline.org.