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Western Pennsylvania, We Have a Problem

In just the past few weeks, there has been a spate of domestic violence incidents in Western Pennsylvania. From a SWAT situation in Pine Township to a man shot and killed by police after holding his wife and child hostage in Lower Burrell to a man shot during an incident in Saltlick Township to a man stabbing his young son in North Versailles, our area has seen far too much domestic violence this spring.

This isn’t a problem that is limited to Western Pennsylvania. Across the nation, people — particularly women and children — are being hurt and dying as a result of domestic violence. It is on all of us to make a change.

Domestic violence occurs at all levels of society, among all kinds of people. Although domestic violence can affect women, children and men, it is primarily a crime against women. 76% of victims of domestic violence are women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of all female homicide victims are killed by intimate partners.

Understanding that this problem exists — including here in Westmoreland County — is just the first step. The question then becomes how we can end domestic violence, and make our community a safer and healthier place to live.

Like all forms of gender-based violence, domestic violence has root, or underlying, causes. By addressing the root causes of domestic violence, rather than simply treating the symptoms, we can end this type of violence. For example, if you told your doctor that you got frequent nosebleeds, she could either treat the symptoms by telling you how to stop the nosebleeds when they happened — or look for and treat the root causes so that you don’t get nosebleeds at all.

The root causes of domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence are complex. They include the objectification and degradation of women in our media (such as all of the ads that use barely dressed women to sell beer and cheeseburgers), rape culture, harmful gender norms, and inequality. It is only by addressing these root causes that we can truly address domestic violence in our community.

Our heart goes out to the victims of the recent domestic violence crimes in our area. As always, we are here to offer services to all victims of violence in Westmoreland County. Our hotline is available 24/7 at 1-888-832-2272 or 724-836-1122, and we also offer a range of services (free of charge) to victims of violence, including an emergency shelter for victims of intimate partner violence.

If you want to join us in our mission to end gender-based violence, there are many ways to help. From donating to volunteering, we are always looking for local community members who want to make a difference. We know by working together, we can reach our goal!

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