Group will again shine light on domestic violence

By Kevin Hanson

The Courier-Herald

Purple lights will begin glowing throughout Enumclaw, letting everyone know the community isn’t about to forget those living under the dark cloud of domestic violence.

The purple light phenomenon is certainly nothing new, but it’s been missing from Enumclw the past few years. In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2008, 40 bulbs have been passed out throughout town, stretching from one end to the other. They should be turned on tonight, Wednesday, and be a part of the landscape through the end of the month.

The effort is part of a renewed commitment to letting everyone know the community is sympathetic to the problem of domestic violence and continues to make resources available to those in need.

Active in the born-again effort are Kimberly Fish, director of Plateau Outreach Ministries, and Sarah Frerichs, a former member of Enumclaw’s Domestic Violence Task Force.

That group was formed in 2002 as an outreach of the local Human Services Advisory Board.

“We had a wonderful group,” Frerichs said, while noting that the association slowly dissolved and finally disbanded in 2005.

It was Fish who recently decided to get tings rolling again and began making calls. Frerichs was on her short list of potential committee members; a loose affiliation of like-minded advocates have started meeting and are planning a formal kick-off for their effort in January.

They have found an ardent and important supporter in Commander Eric Sortland of the Enumclaw Police Department.

Both Fish and Frerichs agree on three key points: the incidents of domestic violence aren’t about to go away, especially in these uncertain economic times; the resources available to victims haven’t diminished a bit; and, finally, there’s an ongoing need to make sure everyone is aware of the resources available.

Also, they’re keenly aware of the need to spread the word to young people who can be victims themselves or live in a household damaged by domestic violence.

“A lot of things are still in place,” Frerichs said, singling out the ongoing efforts of the Domestic Abuse Women’s Network, King County Sexual Assault Resource Center and the YWCA. Each has a presence in Enumclaw.

DAWN maintains a crisis line staffed by volunteers and the YWCA offers a support group that meets monthly.

“Victms often think there’s no one out there to help them and it’s just not true,” Frerichs said.

The renewed effort, which has received support from City Hall and the Enumclaw Police Department, will strive to get the word of available resources to those who have been, or might be, victims of domestic violence. A continued emphasis will be placed on education at the high school and middle school level, where “cycle of violence” posters have been fixtures on restroom walls.

Sortland heaps praise on those willing to get the Domestic Violence Task Force active again.

“They really champion the cause of domestic violence victims by providing up-to-date resources,” he said.

Sortland said Enumclaw’s court has a high prosecution rate and notes that groups like the task force contribute to the cause by supporting victims throughout a difficult process. Often, victims decide against following through with court proceedings, he said, when they’re left on their own.

Domestic violence is described as “a pattern of behavior that one intimate partner of spouse exerts over another as a means of control.” It can include physical and sexual violence, coercion, threats, intimidation, isolation and emotional, sexual or economic abuse. Children are often used as pawns by perpetrators to manipulate their victims. The threat of physical violence is present and domestic violence is said to be the leading cause of injury for American women between the ages of 15 and 54.

Sad statistics

One in four women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime, according to a report issued by the National Institute of Justice and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2006, there were nearly 50,000 reported cases of domestic violence in the state of Washington, according to the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs.

During that year, 59 of 195 homicides were related to domestic violence.

Warning signs include:

  • One family member keeping track of another at all times and often being critical.

  • One partner constantly accusing the other of being unfaithful.

  • Preventing a partner from seeing friends or family, or going to work or school.

  • Humiliating a partner in front of others.

  • Forcing a partner into sexual activity against their will.

  • Threatening to hurt a partner, children or pets, or following through on threats.

  • Blaming the victim for the perpetrator’s violent outbursts.

    If you suspect a person

    is a victim:

  • Take the time to listen and believe what is being said.

  • Don’t downplay the danger.

  • Don’t judge or criticize.

  • Offer emotional support and provide assistance.

  • Let the victim know that agencies exist to help.

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