Raise public awareness to end domestic violence

Domestic violence affects people of any age, gender, race, socioeconomic class, education level and marital status. In 2012, there were more than 11,000 reported incidents of domestic violence in Erie County, with only one in seven cases being reported. Many calls to 911 are made by children calling on behalf of their mother. In the last five years, more than 50 women and children have died in Erie County from domestic violence.

It is estimated that one in four women will be touched by domestic abuse. Additionally, 30 percent to 60 percent of children in a household where the mother is abused are abused themselves. Even if not abused, children who witness abuse are more likely to abuse their own children and partners later in life. Domestic violence is not only a family problem; it affects communities and entire societies.

With wonderful organizations such as the Family Justice Center of Erie County, which partners with multiple agencies to provide services to those experiencing domestic violence, why is the incidence of domestic violence still so high? In my opinion, we need to broaden the definition of domestic violence to include children, the elderly and the disabled through a combination of public awareness and education.

Joanne Hahn-Smith