Hard times tend to be even harder for families that are plagued by domestic violence. Lost wages, the loss of insurance and feelings of helplessness can all increase the pressure on troubled relationships.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time when, “We need to remind others that these people are suffering physical and emotional pain on top of the economic pain everyone is experiencing,” said Tina Harris, victim advocate with the Renton Police Department.
Purple is the color to show support for survivors of domestic violence.
Throughout October, is displaying purple lights at night to help raise awareness of the problem and of local resources available to help
Domestic abuse occurs in every community and cuts across every social
and economic group. It is often referred to as a “silent crime,” because most
incidents go unreported.
This aspect of the crime also is aggravated by the bad economy. Victims
with reduced finances often feel they have to remain with their abusers to
support themselves and their children.
Abusers often tell their victims, “no one will believe you, no one will help you,” as a means of maintaining control. When victims see news about cuts
to basic health and food programs they might have turned to for support, the abuser’s lies sound more believable.
“The economic crisis is a tool in the hands of batterers,” said Cheryl Bozarth, executive director at the Domestic Abuse Women’s Network (DAWN), which
assists victims of domestic violence in South King County. DAWN’s services
include a crisis shelter, and the agency has seen increased demand for all its
services during the recession, Bozarth said.
As a police department employee, Harris’ job puts her in direct contact with the City’s domestic violence victims. “When one of our officers files a report of domestic violence, I follow up with the victim to make her, or him, aware of the services available in the community,” she said.
“Combatting domestic violence is definitely a community, rather than agency, thing in Renton,” Harris said. “We all pull together to take a wrap-around approach.”
Bozarth said there are three key steps the public can take to combat domestic violence:
1. If you suspect someone is under attack, call 911 and report it. “You’d report a car crash if you saw it on the highway,” Bozarth said. “We should have the same reaction with DV. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
2. If you question your own relationship, call a crisis line and talk through the situation with a counselor.
3. If you want to help, support one of the community agencies that provide victim services. “Donate your time, talent, or resources,” Bozarth said. “Even if all you can spare is $5, believe me, we’d be grateful.”
Where to get help
These agencies provide an array of services for victims of domestic violence and their children.
Domestic Abuse Women’s Network
24-hour crisis line: 425-656-7867
YWCA of Seattle-King County-Snohomish County
Screening for emergency shelter: 206-461-4882
Consejo Counseling and Referral Service
After-hours hotline: 206-753-7006
Refugee Women’s Alliance
South King County office: 206-957-2029
National 211 Collaborative
National referral line for community services: 211