This month it will be hard to miss the purple ribbons about Cherokee County as agencies and individuals promote awareness to a serious issue that plagues many households in our community. While the issue is far more pervasive than most can imagine, these victims are not alone and there are places and people they can turn to.
Family Violence is criminal behavior that cuts across all socio-economic layers and touches the lives of old and young, men and women, gay and straight and even rich and poor. One in five teens report that they are involved in a relationship where they have suffered physical, sexual or emotional abuse. Violence is not something that people outgrow in a relationship but only get s worse as a battering partner seeks to manipulate and control their partner.
Physical and mental abuse in the home is not related specifically to a alcoholics or drug abuse but is a separate and distinct problem. It is a condition that is borne of an acceptance in the use of violence means of control of another person. This situation is only magnified when children are involved. While they may not be the target of the violence, children raised in a violent atmosphere are more likely to grow up believing that violence in the family is acceptable, creating another generations of victims and abusers.
Violence within a relationship is something of a stigma that society has swept under the rug. For batterers it is acceptable to punish their partner to keep them in line while many of the victims believe that they deserve the treatment inflicted upon them. Family violence is a cycle in a relationship that builds a level of tension in the relationship until there is a explosive climax of violence followed by a relative calm. Many victims will provoke the violence in order to get to the following calm. The victims of Domestic Violence feel trapped in this cyclic pattern of tension, violence and calm.
The greatest misunderstanding about Domestic Violence is that the victims can just escape if they wanted to. The socio-economic pressures weigh heavily against the victim of Domestic Violence who wants to leave the relationship. Victims are usually isolated financially without the means to help while clergy and counselors emphasize the benefits of preserving the relationship. For many, the social stigma of becoming a victim prevents them from reaching outside the relationship for help while other victims are isolated from the community, family and friends by their batterers. In either case, the victims face a community that is not willing to accept the truth about the batterer or that real problem exists.
In Cherokee County there are resources for victims to turn to. The Cherokee Family Violence Center offers a crisis hotline and a shelter to accept the victims fleeing a violent relationship. Once there, the staff offers counselors that can help victims obtain restraining orders against their abusers, obtain financial resources to get the family on its feet and look for employment. There is counseling available to victims and their non-offending family members to help cope with the emotional impact of the violence. The Cherokee County Family Violence Center Center has the countries’ first Transitional Housing program that can place qualified families in to safe, stable affordable housing to help a family wracked by violence achieve independence.
The month of October is more than just a time to remember those who have endured or are still trapped by Domestic Violence but to become more aware of its presence in our community and society. A society that is aware of its signs and its impacts will make this crime socially unacceptable and make it possible to break the cycle of violence that many families live in.