Help us disarm domestic violence

Opinion

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Each day, more than three women in the United States are murdered by a male intimate partner*. It's called domestic violence and could be happening right next door to you or even in your own home. In fact, recent news stories in the Chicago Tribune reported on two probable cases of domestic violence that resulted in the deaths of two Cicero women (Aug. 11, 15, and 22 editions).

As an organization committed to ending violence against women, Sarah's Inn is concerned that media coverage about these deaths and others does not recognize the true impact of domestic violence in all our communities. For example, one-third of all police time is spent responding to domestic disturbance calls**. According to a May 2000 study conducted by the American Medical Association, injuries sustained from domestic violence account for 25-35 percent of visits by women to emergency rooms annually, and one in three women around the world will be raped, beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime, according to the 2003 UNIFEM report "Not a Mrnute More: Ending Violence Against Women."

It's time for all of us?#34;individuals and communities?#34;to start recognizing domestic violence for what it is. It is not a private issue, but an issue requiring action by the media, the judicial system, domestic violence advocates, social service providers, faith-based organizations, school districts, and other systems within society?#34;in short, a coordinated community response to address the myriad problems that result from domestic violence.

Sarah's Inn calls each of you to take a stand against domestic violence. For the media, that means reporting on violence against women as more than a murder-suicide, but as a heinous crime and a violation of human rights. For the judicial system, that means learning about the dynamics of domestic violence and how that might be applied to working as an attorney with a battered woman or to sentencing a batterer in the courtroom. For faith-based organizations, that means developing procedures and protocols about what to do if someone approaches a pastor or minister with the issue. For you, that means volunteering your time or donating money to your local domestic violence agency, supporting a friend who's experiencing domestic violence, or calling 911 if you suspect a neighbor is being abused by her partner.

You don't have to be an expert on domestic violence?#34;that's one reason organizations like Sarah's Inn exist. We are committed to working individually and collectively with members of the community to advocate for social change, legal and judicial reform, and the establishment, respect and enforcement of domestic violence public policy.

If you are interested in taking a stand against this issue, we invite you to call your local DV agency or shelter to find out what's being done in your community to end domestic violence.

(*United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Violence by Intimates, 2000.

**"The Billion Dollar Epidemic," American Medical News, Jan. 6, 1992.)

Pat Frinzevalle
executive director, Sarah's Inn

Sarah's Inn, located in Oak Park, was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) in 1981, and has been providing domestic violence services to 22 near western suburban communities and the Austin community on the West Side of Chicago for 25 years.

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