Domestic violence claimed the lives of more than 60 Arizonans since the beginning of 2004, according to the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
"As of mid-September, 63 people in Arizona died as a result of domestic violence," Time Out Shelter Education and Volunteer Coordinator Jean Oliver said. "They ranged in age from 4-years-old to 79-years-old."
This year's victims will be remembered at Time Out's candlelight vigil at Payson Town Hall Thursday, Oct. 21 at 6:30 p.m.
The Rim country has not had a domestic violence-related homicide since 2001, when local television station manager Susan Birchak was murdered by her roommate Kevan Kuhlman. Yet, domestic violence cases in the town of Payson still average about 230 per year.
Payson Police Lt. Don Engler said domestic violence cases in Payson have increased this year from 2003.
"We were feeling really good about the efforts we had made in domestic violence when the 2003 annual report came out," Engler said. "They were down from 2002, from 258 cases to 216 cases. That led us to believe we had made some progress along with the community partners who assist in controlling domestic violence. Now we are back to showing an increase again and that is a concern."
Engler said that by August, Payson had surpassed the total for 2003.
"We are showing 276 cases of domestic violence at of the end of August," Engler said. "We are trying to determine why we are seeing an increase again."
Engler said there is an average of between five and six domestic violence arrests per week in town.
"Domestics are a high percentage of our priority one calls," Engler said.
Time Out Shelter Director Gerry Bailey said domestic violence is a problem in the Rim country.
"(The shelter is) full a lot of the time and a lot of times we have to make referrals to other agencies so a woman can leave the area to get safe shelter somewhere else," Bailey said. "A lot of the women we serve are not just residents, but those who come to our support groups."
Escalation of violence
Engler said Payson is fortunate to not have a domestic violence homicide since Susan Birchak, but the way the violence often escalates is a constant concern for officers.
"The officers on the street can see the escalation in many, many of these domestics they've been to," Engler said. "You can see the escalation of force used by the perpetrator. I hope we can intervene in some of these cases before we do see the more serious cases."
"In general, domestic violence typically starts with verbal abuse and the frequency and intensity both increase until there is physical abuse," Bailey said. "In the classic case, the physical abuse becomes more severe and the danger level rises over a period of time."
Bailey said the level of violence is an abuser's response to his/her perceived loss of control over the victim.
"A lot depends upon the abuser because it's about power and control, so the abuser tends to use whatever is necessary to control a particular situation," Bailey said.
"What we know is that when a woman leaves the danger of being killed increases.
"What we always suggest is that when a woman is preparing to leave, even if she is not going to Time Out or another shelter, that she talk to people who understand the dynamics and can help her create a safety plan. We can help her create an individualized safety plan."
Bailey said the highly publicized cases of Laci Peterson and Lori Hacking are reminders that domestic violence can be lethal. Close to 80 percent of women murdered in this country are killed by an intimate partner, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.
"What women have told me is that they have such a hard time believing that someone they love -- someone who has professed to love them -- could kill them, but as we know from all the cases in the news it does happen."
Bailey said it takes all entities in a community to combat domestic violence.
"It takes an entire community working together, saying domestic violence is not OK and perpetrators need to be held accountable," Bailey said. "It's law enforcement, schools, churches -- it's men saying to other men ‘It's not OK.'"
Law enforcement now has a charge of aggravated domestic violence, which applies to a perpetrator on their third charge in a period of five months. If found guilty, an offender will spend at least four months in jail.
"We have a zero-tolerance policy," Engler said. "If probable cause exists according to the state statutes, we will make an arrest. Our number one goal is to stop the immediate problem by making the arrest, and number two, to get some intervention and break that cycle of violence."
For more information on domestic violence services and support groups, call the Time Out Shelter at (928) 472-8007.
Warning signs of an abusive personality
- A push for quick involvement: Comes on very strong.
- Jealousy: Excessively possessive, calls constantly, suspicious, visits unexpectedly.
- Controlling: Interrogates you about your activities. Insists you ask permission to go anywhere or do anything.
- Unrealistic expectations: Expects you to be perfect and meet his every need.
- Isolation: Tries to cut you off from friends and family.
- Blames others for problems: Things are always someone else's fault.
- Verbal abuse: Constantly criticizes and belittles you.
- Sudden mood swings: Switches from sweet to explosive in a matter of minutes.
- Gives the silent treatment: Withdraws, refuses to talk as punishment.
- Minimizing, denying: Ignoring or minimizing your feelings, denying they are real.
- Using the children: Uses the children to make you feel guilty, threatens to take them away.
- Disregards, neglects your requests or needs.
- Yells, screams, rages, and terrorizes you.
(The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans)
For more information or assistance, call the Time Out Shelter at (928) 472-8007.
Community Events for Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Time Out Shelter's Annual Walk and Vigil
Thursday, Oct. 21
Participants will meet at the First Southern Baptist Church parking lot on Bonita Street at 5:45 p.m. to begin the march down the Beeline Highway to Payson Town Hall.
"We will meet and those who are marching will get candles," Time Out Volunteer Coordinator Jean Oliver said. "We will walk to town hall with a police escort."
Oliver said when they arrive at town hall, around 6:15 p.m., there will be a short program.
"We will have a table with candles representing the people who have died in Arizona this year as a result of domestic violence," Oliver said.
"We will have educational materials and hot coffee, hot cocoa and cookies."
For more information, call Wynn Wojcik at (928) 472-8007.
Up, Up and Away with Domestic Violence Radiothon
Friday, Oct. 22
KMOG Radio is joining forces with the Soroptimists of Zane Grey Country in an all-day radiothon from Chapman Auto Center to raise money for local nonprofit organizations that assist survivors of domestic violence.
Soroptimist and event organizer, Cathy Hall, said the radiothon is to increase community awareness about domestic violence, and raise money for Arizonans for Children, Time Out, Inc., Big Brothers Big Sisters, Payson Community Kids, and the Soroptimist Woman's Opportunity Award.
"Teams from places like the Mazatzal Casino and the hospital will come to Chapman Auto Center to call people or take calls from people for donations," Hall said. "KMOG will interview people from the organizations as well as people involved in domestic violence education."
The radiothon begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m.
"There will be staff from Rim Guidance throughout the day to talk about domestic violence," Hall said. "It's an awareness day and a fund-raising day."
For more information, call Cathy Hall at (928) 472-3243.