Domestic violence — ‘The worst kept secret’
The criminal justice and law departments try to raise awareness for domestic violence in October
Published: Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 13:10
More than two million women and men around the United States are assaulted by their partners annually — and most will not say a word about it.
Throughout October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Alpha Phi Sigma, the criminal justice honor society, has been collecting cell phones and other item donations for the Durham Crisis Relief Center.
“We collect phones because they give them to the women when they are leaving the shelter as their first tool if they call the police to seek assistance,” said Lorna Grant, assistant criminal justice professor and adviser of Alpha Phi Sigma honor society.
She explained that most of the time, abusers will take their partner’s phone to keep them from contacting anyone. As a result, abusers gain control over their victim.
Domestic violence is when two people get into an intimate relationship and one person uses a pattern of coercion and control against the other person during the relationship and/or after the relationship has terminated, according to the N.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence website. It often includes physical, sexual, emotional or economic abuse.
In a panel discussion on Oct. 9 in the Albert Whiting Criminal Justice Building, hosted by Alpha Phi Sigma, Corporal Thaddeus Ochman said there were 2,400 domestic violence cases in Durham in 2011.
He also stated that every year there is a 10 percent increase in domestic violence in Durham.
About one in three American women have been physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives.
However, some of these victims still do not leave.
“On campus there are students that have been victimized and are fearful to talk about it,” Grant said.
“They do not know how to seek help and many believe they are by themselves when it comes to that.”
Assistant Clinical Law Professor and Attorney Deria Hayes said she believes it’s an emotional attachment. Leaving, she said, is the most dangerous time for the domestic abuse victim.
“The problem with domestic violence is that it is very secretive in nature,” Hayes said. “People don’t talk about it.”
Hayes said it’s important to be aware because it affects others and could result in death.
She points to the shooting in Milwaukee where a man walked into his wife’s workplace, after being ordered to turn over all his weapons after a domestic dispute, and killed three women and himself.
Hayes has hosted a three-part panel discussion of her own in collaboration with five other HBCUs to discuss domestic violence.
“In having the discussion I’m trying to make sure people have access to legal information they may not otherwise have,” Hayes said.
“I’m making sure I’m engaging students in the conversation about how we can address domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking, but also how we can be a part of the solution.”
Grant echoes the same sentiments.
“They need to be given the knowledge base or be aware, then they can share the knowledge to those they know are being abused,” she said.