Domestic Violence Put on Target by Nonprofit Organizations

By Zlatos, Bill | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 16, 2011 | Go to article overview

Domestic Violence Put on Target by Nonprofit Organizations


Zlatos, Bill, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


It's been five years since David Shadle strangled and suffocated his girlfriend, 19-year-old Jessica Aaron.

Her mother Susan wonders what kind of person her daughter, whom she called Jessie, would have become if she had developed her gift for poetry and passion for the Spanish language and culture.

"The boy who murdered my daughter received a life sentence, but so did I and my family," said Aaron, 48, of Slickville in Westmoreland County. "Every day, we yearn for Jessie's company."

To prevent the same thing from happening to more families, anti- violence nonprofit groups are leading statewide and regional campaigns to reduce domestic violence in the home, school and workplace.

Nationally, about one in every three teenage girls has been a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, reports Futures Without Violence, a San Francisco-based nonprofit group. Teen victims who have been physically abused are more likely to smoke, use drugs, engage in risky sex and attempt or consider suicide, according to the organization.

"In schools they're working on the approach to change the norm of what's acceptable behavior so that violence on any level is not acceptable," said Carmen Anderson, senior program officer at The Heinz Endowments.

Heinz in May approved $545,000 in grants to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Pittsburgh Action Against Rape, the University of Pittsburgh, Womansplace and the Crisis Shelter of Lawrence County.

Besides Heinz, Eden Hall, FISA, Grable, Staunton Farm, the Women and Girls Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are supporting programs in the state and region. The charitable arm of American Eagle Outfitters also is involved.

The impetus for the new approach came from the idea that kids, not adults, should figure out what works best for them.

Anti-violence advocates say hip-hop music, celebrities who mistreat their girlfriends or wives, and the increase in broken homes drives some assaults.

"All you have to do is look at the culture in which these kids live," said Dayna Shaw Sear, executive director of the Crisis Shelter of Lawrence County. "You turn on any one of the pop or hip- hop stations and most pop songs are about some kind of abuse or having their way with women."

The Pennsylvania Coalition will survey people about their beliefs on domestic and dating violence. Based on the survey, the coalition will launch projects to encourage relationships free of violence. …

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