On any given day, if you click on a local news website or watch the news on TV, you’re bound to see at least one story involving domestic violence: a man accused of sending 6,000 messages to his ex-girlfriend, including death threats; SWAT responds after man attempts to flush infant ; man taken into custody after firing shots at officers after a domestic violence incident.
These stories are just a sampling of the domestic violence crimes reported in local news over the past few weeks. They make it clear that we have a problem with domestic violence in this country, even here in Western Pennsylvania. And it’s a problem that far too often results in death. In 2015, 146 people were killed as a result of domestic violence in Pennsylvania alone. That includes 113 victims and 33 perpetrators. Across the nation, the results are equally disturbing, with reports indicating that 64% of female homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner or family member. 31% of mass shootings in the United States are directly linked to domestic violence.
Domestic abuse is often a precursor to other types of violence, including homicide. But all forms of domestic violence, from emotional abuse to financial abuse to reproductive coercion and physical abuse, are damaging. As a society, we need to start taking it more seriously. We need to believe victims, prosecute the offenders, and provide support and services to help victims move forward with their lives.
We have made progress in Pennsylvania towards recognizing domestic violence for the dangerous crime that it is, but it is still not enough. Far too many people — including those who are supposed to help victims — question whether allegations of abuse are true. Far too many people dismiss domestic violence as something that is just a family issue.
At Blackburn Center, we believe that all people should have the right to live their lives free from violence. We need your help to make this goal a reality. You can help us by taking part in one of our community groups, Men As Allies or Future Advocates of Blackburn, volunteering, or donating to help support our mission. Together, we can make a difference — and stop domestic violence in Westmoreland County!