Even I Was Surprised?

I don’t know that prior to today I’ve ever written an article where the opening paragraph also served as a disclosure. I am currently the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of Safe Space which is an organization dedicated to combating domestic violence and sexual assault. I have served on the Board for several years and in that time have learned a lot about just how pervasive a problem domestic violence (DV) is in our society. October was Domestic Violence Awareness month and in the course of it I was given the opportunity to read a proclamation from North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper. I am somewhat ashamed to admit that part of its content surprised me. Let’s explore.

In further disclosure, Governor Cooper is a Democrat, someone who I have met and support. None of that is relevant. People in his position seldom actually author proclamations. Their staffs research and write them. At best, the executive actually reads and signs them. Sometimes even those functions are delegated. I have no idea what the division of labor was in this instance.

While I pride myself on being a pretty good public speaker, I think I am a well below average public reader. Therefore it is my practice to get the script of anything I have to read in public a few days in advance and read through it several times. I was impressed with the job Governor Cooper’s office did. They could have just thrown together the usual politically correct happy talk and satisfied everyone. They went far and above citing several statistics that I was unaware of. The juxtaposition of two floored me and they are the catalyst for today’s article.

Here is the portion of the proclamation in question, “according to the National Violence Against Women Survey, approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner in the United States every year”. That means over 2.1 million victims annually. If they constituted a state it would be more populous than the fifteen least populated states in America. Can you imagine the outcry if the entire population of say South Dakota were beaten this year? This is South Dakota and fourteen other states.

If you think this is “other people’s” problem you are mistaken. DV occurs in all ethnic, religious and economic groups. While things like alcohol and drug abuse exacerbate the problem no group is immune. If you, like me, have been fortune to not have a history of DV in your background I assure you that you know and interact with people less fortune than you.

I don’t have any figures, but society bears a large cost in lost productivity if nothing else. That doesn’t account for the law enforcement and judicial costs. Nor does it take into the account the emotional scars borne by those on the periphery of DV incidents. What does a six year-old think when they see Dad slug Mom? How does that affect their performance in school and later their ability to contribute to society?

If you want to learn more and/or help one place to start is www.ncsafespace.org. The purpose of today’s article is not necessarily to raise funds or recruit volunteers. I realize that the majority of my readers don’t live in the greater Raleigh, North Carolina area. I simply want to raise awareness. You can’t solve (or in this case combat) a problem until you acknowledge its existence.

It has become my practice to take the end of the year off from writing. Therefore today’s article was written well before publishing.

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