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February 19, 2013

BEAM: Breaking the cycle of abuse

(Continued)

Yet some records do exist.

According to the Indiana Coalition against Domestic Violence, 64 people died in Indiana due to domestic abuse during the one-year period from July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012. During that same time, 6,186 women, 4,724 children and 18 men, all victims of domestic violence, were served by emergency shelters throughout the Hoosier state. Close to 22,000 survivors were aided by nonresidential programs and 63,138 calls were made to the organization’s crisis phone line. 

This is Indiana, folks.

Although predominantly women are affected by this type of abuse, we can’t ignore that men suffer too. A 2011 paper from the Centers for Disease Control stated that almost 3 million men are victims of physical assault from their partners. 

While this type of cruelty can happen to anyone regardless of gender, age or income, studies have shown that children witnessing the abuse suffer documented cognitive, developmental and emotional distress. Youth who have observed such behavior have an increased risk of depression, anxiety and aggression. The likelihood of physical illnesses like post-traumatic stress disorder, gastrointestinal issues, asthma and headaches also escalate. Likewise, these onlookers are more apt to continue the cycle of abuse either become victims of domestic violence themselves, or become perpetrators later on in life. 

So what can we do about this centuries old problem? We can educate ourselves and others about the signs and symptoms of domestic violence. Women and men also need to realize they have a voice and that law enforcement and other local agencies are there to hear it. 

Most importantly, the cycle of abuse must be broken. Children who witness the acts need counseling and guidance so they won’t repeat them later in life. 

Just last week, the United States Senate reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act by an overwhelming 78-22 margin. Since 1994, the bill has provided increased funding to organizations that aid domestic violence victims as well as helped to train law enforcement agencies on how to handle abuse cases. 

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