The Govenor of Massachusetts has set up a Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. A staff member from Jane Doe, Inc. Voices for Change reviewing the problems of domestic violence in the State of Massachusetts and they have made a report.
For the year of 2007- to date…. Massachusetts has had a number of domestic violence murders. According to the Boston-Herald News & Opinion Blog they have had 26 fatal incidents related to domestic violence. They have listed the dates and persons killed. Yes, that is right- one state, in 8 months. I cannot think of a better way to show the impact of domestic violence than that. Twenty six families who are mourning the deaths of loved ones. 26 sets of friends who remember their friends with grief and sadness, who are trying to make sense of what happened. 26 neighbors who look at the house every day and remember what happened to the occupants. 26 communities where police officers and ambulances had to enter the situation and try to pick up the remains and now have that as a permanent part of their memories. 26 communities whose ambulances, hospitals,police officers, and coroners resources were used in treating and/or investigating those crimes. 26 communities who were impacted with the deaths of their citizens- and if you want to be realistic, many of those communities have lost employees, taxes and work hours, communities who will now be paying for incarcerations and trials.
Many of those involved may have had children- now orphans or virtual orphans. Many facing and trying to cope with the fact that not only did they lose a parent- but it was their other parent who did it. Some of those children will be too young to remember their parent. Some will be old enough to remember- but this may be their first experience with death. Many of the children’s friends are learning about death for the first time and trying to assimiliate the fact that their friend’s parent was not killed by a stranger- but by someone their friend knew and maybe even loved. Someone they themselves may have met or spent time with.
And no less affected are the suspect’s family. This person they thought they knew- maybe even loved is accused of a heinous crime and is facing prison- maybe even death themselves. Or maybe they also died. And now they are placed in a position where they don’t know how to feel about what happened, because though they may condemn what they did- they still love them.
We read about domestic violence murders and one story at a time, we can miss the impact that those deaths have. Especially if it is an anonymous stranger. But it isn’t one death. 1 state, 8 months, 26 incidents. There are 50 states, and 12 months. You can do the math. And that is just the ones that died, not the ones who were seriously or maybe permanently injured.
I am glad Massachusetts is investigating and trying to resolve the problems. And I hope they can come up with some answers. Stronger, better laws can and would help. Better resources make for better choices. But the hardest part is often the personal part. Teaching friends and relatives what to do if they know someone being abused. How they can intervene. Exploring how to react when they learn that it is their friend or their relative who is an abuser and how they can get help, both for their friend or relative as well as for the victim. Teaching victims there is help out there, and how to get it as well as how to know if they need it. As well as making sure the other 49 states work on it too.
Other links of interest on the subject: