Domestic Violence Emerges as a Critical Issue for Public Safety Needs

Article excerpt

The issues of spousal/partner and child abuse have become a major focus for this year's national headlines. Many media reports have raised public awareness about the aspects of domestic violence and how it affects many Americans, particularly women and children. We have come to learn about a myriad of facts and circumstances that surround this serious issue. The general public is learning how many people are victims of these dramatic and tragic circumstances in their everyday lives. For example:

* Nearly 500 women across the country will be battered in a two hour period; one woman is beaten every 15 seconds.

* 2 to 4 million women a year are battered worldwide.

* On the average, 10 women a day are killed by their batterers.

* Battery is the single largest cause of injury to women in the U.S.

* Women in this country are more likely to be victimized through assault, battery, rape, or homicide by a current for former male partner than by all other assailants combined.

Research over the past decade shows that women who leave their batterers are at a 75 percent greater risk of being killed by their batterer than those who stay. More than 30 percent of female homicide victims are killed as a result of domestic violence.

Yearly, more than a million women seek medical assistance for injuries caused by domestic violence.

A Key Concern for Women Elected Officials

NLC's Women in Municipal Government Caucus group has been carefully looking at these issues over the year. Its theme this year, "Violence in the Family," was a major focus for WIMG's summer Board of Directors meeting hosted by its president, Margaret Barrett, Council Member, Jackson, Miss.

According to Barrett, in her remarks at the summer NLC Advisory Council meeting in Thornton, Colo., "At our Jackson board of directors meeting, we learned a great deal about the increasingly negative national statistics illustrating an increase in domestic violence and in violence in the family overall. We discussed how women, in particular, and their children suffer and remain in abusive situations because of a number of factors: economic dependence, lack of resources, dominance and control by husbands and partners, fear for their children's safety and fear for their own lives.

"In hearing all of the facts and statistics about this issue, it makes us wonder, how are we at the local government and community action level doing about all this? Believe it or not, there is hope and help. Many national and community-based programs have been established over the past several years to address these problems. Most importantly, our city and state governments are passing legislation that bring some solutions to these problems.

"WIMG affirms that more and mandatory training has to be done with our court, correctional, health and public safety personnel so that our professionals and elected officials can gain a better understanding about the background and the dynamics of family violence. …