Domestic Violence Not a Gender Issue; We Are All Affected

Article excerpt

Byline: Peggy Whalen

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and as Womenspace prepares to celebrate our 35th anniversary in 2012, it saddens me to see that no matter how many things have changed, some things continue to stay the same.

Given the viewpoints expressed by Deborah Capaldi (guest viewpoint, Sept. 28), Theya McCown (guest viewpoint, Oct. 5) and recent letters to the editor, I am concerned that the gender debate about intimate partner violence, or IPV, is overshadowing the impact that it has on our community as a whole.

When we talk about research and statistics, we can lose sight of the women, children and men who are living in fear in their own homes. There are many relationships that are unhealthy but may not be IPV. By definition, intimate partner violence is a set of behaviors used by one person in an intimate relationship to control and take complete power over the other.

IPV may include physical, emotional, verbal, sexual and financial abuse. The victims of this violence live in chronic state of terror and fear.

There are families in our community who have to make the difficult choice every day whether to remain in an unsafe home or be homeless. I know I don't want to live in a community where this is tolerated. As the economic situation continues to get worse and there are fewer options and services for victims of IPV to access, we at Womenspace are seeing far worse violence than ever before.

Trends show that IPV victims are staying in dangerous situations much longer because they feel they have no other choice. Womenspace relies on community support to ensure that we can continue to provide life- saving services, information and support to survivors of IPV and their children.

As we continue to witness the increasing incidence and severity of domestic violence, it seems you cannot open the paper or turn on the news without hearing about another IPV related homicide. According to the Oregon attorney general's report, there were 55 domestic violence related deaths in Oregon in 2010.

While all other crimes decreased last year, domestic violence was the only crime to increase. …