Domestic Violence Awareness Month is observed in October throughout the United States. The month is designated as a time for educating the public about the effects of domestic violence on families and finding ways to work together to promote safety and eliminate domestic violence.
In Payson, Time Out Inc. will commemorate the month with a number of special events, many of which have an educational component.
"Recovery is not possible without education," said Jean Oliver, education coordinator at Time Out. "We have a great education program that is open to the public as well as (our) residents."
Domestic violence crosses ethnic, racial, age, national origin, sexual orientation and religious and socioeconomic lines. Domestic violence is so prevalent that nearly one in three adult women experience at least one physical assault by a partner during adulthood, reports the American Bar Association.
The Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence said that approximately one in five female high school students reported being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.
While men are sometimes victims of domestic violence, the vast majority of victims -- 90 percent to 95 percent -- are women, reports the American Bar Association. The majority of perpetrators -- 95 percent -- are male, the association said.
Domestic abuse arrests in Payson increased about 9 percent from 2003 (368) to 2004 (404), said Don Engler, commander of the Payson Police Department.
"We had 224 arrests for domestic violence through July," Engler said. "Looking at the comparable time last year, we had 238 arrests, so there's a slight drop when time periods are compared."
Engler said Payson police officers see drugs and alcohol involved in 85 percent to 90 percent of the domestic violence cases to which they respond.
"We are seeing an increase in the number of cases related to meth, but alcohol is still the most prevalent," he said.
While many people associate domestic violence with drugs and alcohol, which are complicating factors, substance abuse is not the primary cause for domestic violence, said Gerry Bailey, director for Time Out Inc.
"The primary cause of domestic violence is an issue of control," she said. "It's one person wanting to exert control over another person."
If you think domestic violence is someone else's problem and has nothing to do with you, think again. Domestic violence touches almost everyone, either directly or indirectly through the costs borne by society.
Consider these facts from the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence:
- Nationally, health related costs of intimate partner violence exceed $5.8 billion annually, with $4.1 billion spent on direct medical and mental health care.
- Companies nationwide lose $3 billion to $5 billion a year from decreased productivity as a result of domestic violence.
- American employees miss 175,000 days per year of paid work due to domestic violence.
Engler said he thinks Domestic Violence Awareness Month is a good idea because it brings awareness to the seriousness of the situation.
"We have always been concerned with the number of cases that may be going unreported," he said. "We hate to think of victims suffering in silence when we are here to help."
Engler said the police department is seeing a disturbing trend locally in domestic violence cases.
"Age is becoming a concern," Engler said. "We have made arrests of children as young as 12 for abusing their parents. We have had four or five of those incidents over the last couple of months. I hope we can get these kids help so that they can change their behavior before they grow up and it becomes a way of life."
Providing such help is what Time Out is all about.
"We have a community advocate who works with individuals outside the shelter and provides community education," Bailey said. "We also have programs for children and teens."
Bailey said Time Out has seen an increase in requests for services and in July opened a second house as a direct result of that increased demand.
"We have been totally full almost the entire time," she said, adding that the increased demand Time Out is experiencing could be because of increased public awareness.
"Nationwide, people are more aware of the services available to victims of domestic violence," Bailey said.
"Locally, increased awareness is definitely a part of the growing demand for our services. With education, people are becoming more aware of what constitutes abuse."
Bailey said Time Out provided services to 480 community residents between July 1, 2004 and June 30, 2005.
Time Out has planned a number of events for the month of October to add to the community's awareness of what constitutes domestic violence.
Thursday, Oct. 13 a candlelight walk and vigil begins at town hall at 5:45 p.m.
"This is our big event to recognize and remember people who have died as a result of domestic violence," Bailey said.
In Arizona in 2004, there were 80 domestic violence-related deaths -- none in Payson, but 26 in the Valley.
"Our program will focus on those who have died as a result of domestic violence," Bailey said. "We will have a candle display with one candle for every person who has died in Arizona this year so far."
Bailey said the candlelight vigil will leave the town hall parking lot at 6 p.m. and walk down the Beeline Highway with a police escort to Mountain Bible Church, where they will have a short program.
Other events include:
Oct. 14: Up, Up and Away with a domestic violence radiothon
Oct. 20: A radio forum beginning at 9 a.m. on KMOG
Oct. 29: Distribution of educational materials and ribbons at Safeway and Wal-Mart.
All Time Out services are provided free of charge.
Anyone interested in participating in any of the events scheduled for Domestic Violence Awareness Month should contact Jean Oliver at (928) 472-8007.
Domestic violence facts and statistics
(from the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the American Bar Association)
- Every five minutes, Arizona police respond to a call involving domestic violence.
- Every 19 minutes an arrest is made in Arizona as a result of domestic violence.
- Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury for women ages 15-44. Estimates state that more than 1.5 million women are victims of domestic violence every year -- the same number as that of men and women who suffer heart attacks each year.
- Women are 14 times more likely to suffer severe physical assault from an intimate partner.
- Nearly one-third of women experience at least one physical assault by a partner during adulthood.
- Nearly 8 percent of men experience some form of intimate partner violence during their lifetimes.
- About 95 percent of all domestic violence perpetrators are male.
- About 90 percent to 95 percent of domestic violence victims are women.
- In about 43 percent of households where intimate partner violence occurs, the woman has children under the age of 12.
- About 50 percent of men who abuse women also abuse children.
- Forty-seven percent of men who beat their wives do so at least three times a year
- Seventy percent of all known domestic violence-related deaths in Arizona involve the use of a firearm.
See related story:
Facing our state's No. 1 violent crime