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Commission alarmed by domestic violence stats
Proclamation approved marking October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month
crisis center pic

In other business Monday morning, the Barton County Commission:

• Recognized Barton County Register of Deeds Pam Wornkey. Wornkey who has been elected as president of the Kansas Register of Deeds Association. She will serve for the rest of 2016 and all of 2017. She had previously served as the association’s vice-president. Each Kansas county is represented in the KROD.

• Approved the purchase of a 2017 Grand Caravan SE from Marmie Motors Inc. at a cost of $20,593. A 2010 Dodge Grand Caravan, with over 215,000 miles, is frequently used for out-of-state and long-distance transports. It is becoming undependable, Sheriff Brian Bellendir said. He suggested that it be traded.  

• Approved offering longevity pay to county personnel. Longevity pay is a supplemental compensation benefit designed for the employee who has established a long term commitment to public service with Barton County, County Administrator Richard Boeckman said. Once a full-time employee has reached five years of continuous service, that employee will be rewarded longevity in the amount of $3 for each month of service, with half that for part-time employees. Longevity payment, which is contingent on budgetary conditions, may be awarded in November of each year.  

This year, the total longevity pay to be awarded is $53,299.50. The budget allowed for $56,000. 

 On Oct. 20, Family Crisis Center Executive Director Rachel Angel wants Barton County residents to “paint the town purple” in an effort to draw attention to domestic violence, which is as serious of a problem locally as it is elsewhere in the state and nation.

“We need continuous awareness,” Angel told Barton County commissioners Monday morning. So, given the number of victims touched by domestic violence, the importance of working with survivors and the need to hold perpetrators accountable, the commission Monday approved a proclamation recognizing October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  

“Family and relationships are often counted among life’s greatest blessings, and tragically, many Kansans’ relationships are tarnished by violence and fear,” Angel said. The crime of domestic violence “violates an individual’s privacy, dignity, security, and humanity, due to the systematic use of physical, emotional, sexual, psychological, economic and coercive control or abuse.”

Referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, she said that one in five women and one in seven men have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner, which translates into 12 million people nationally and approximately 557,275 Kansas or 20 percent of the Kansas population. The U.S. Department of Justice reports that intimate partner homicides comprise 14 percent of all homicides in the United States and women are twice as likely as men to be killed by an intimate partner.

Furthermore, the Kansas Bureau of Investigations reports that 16.5 percent of all homicides in Kansas in 2014 were related to domestic violence. In Kansas in 2014, one domestic violence murder occurred every 22.8 days and one domestic violence incident was reported to law enforcement every 42 minutes, 12 seconds.

Closer to home, in 2015, the Family Crisis Center Inc.’s Domestic and Sexual Violence Center answered 3,349 crisis calls, sheltered 145 women, men and children, and worked with  301 domestic violence victims. 

“This violence is inconsistent with the values of our community, it will not be excused or tolerated and we, as a community, must learn about domestic violence and the impact on survivors, families and the community as a whole,” the proclamation reads.

So, in declaring October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Barton County Commissioners “encourage all citizens to speak out against domestic violence, to provide support for survivors of these crimes, to encourage community leaders to hold perpetrators accountable, and to make domestic violence prevention efforts a priority by hosting events, by creating policies at school and work, and by working with Family Crisis Center Inc.’s Domestic and Sexual Violence Center,” the proclamation notes.

“Those statistics are really alarming,” Commissioner Jennifer Schartz said. “You don’t know what’s going on in peoples’ homes.”

“It’s why we’re here,” Angel said.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month evolved from the “Day of Unity” held in October 1981 and conceived by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The intent was to connect advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children. The Day of Unity soon became an entire week devoted to a range of activities conducted at the local, state, and national level. 

In October 1987, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed.

The Family Crisis Center Inc., based in Great Bend, provides advocacy and support to all survivors and secondary victims of domestic and sexual violence, child abuse and neglect in Barton, Barber, Comanche, Edwards, Kiowa, Ness, Pawnee, Pratt, Rush and Stafford counties.