Get your purple on
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the Great Bend-based Family Crisis Center is observing Oct. 19 as Domestic Violence Awareness Day. Center Executive Director Joanne Wondra is encouraging business to paint and decorate their windows purple and for residents of Barton County to wear purple to help mark this occasion.
Wondra said they will be out taking photos of purple displays and garb, and are encouraging folks to send pictures to them as well. For more information on how to participate, contact the center by calling 620-793-9941 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Given the number of victims touched by domestic violence, the Barton County Commission Monday morning proclaimed October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This marks the 30th anniversary of this annual observance.
The month is dedicated to increasing awareness about domestic violence and how widespread domestic violence is. It is also important to work with survivors and hold perpetrators accountable, said Great Bend-based Family Crisis Center Executive Director Joanne Wondra.
“Family and relationships are often counted among life’s greatest gifts,” Wondra said. “Tragically, many Kansans’ relationships are tarnished by violence and fear.”
The crime of domestic violence violates one’s privacy, dignity and security, she said. “This violence is inconsistent with the values of our community and will not be excused or tolerated.”
In one year in Kansas, about 19,000 victims are served and about 24,000 phone calls are taken by Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence’s 27 coalition members, including the Family Crisis Center.
Wondra brought those numbers closer to home. The center covers Barber, Barton, Comanche, Edwards, Kiowa, Ness, Pawnee, Pratt, Rush and Stafford counties, and in those counties:
• The center served 226 victims in 2016, about the same as in 2015. Of those, 185 were women, 12 were men and 29 were children.
• There were also 93 sexual assault victims, another number that has stayed even. These included 58 woman, six men and 29 children.
• The crisis line fielded 3,724 calls.
Of these victims, 55 percent were from Barton County. Also, the center’s shelter housed 35 women and 25 children, figures that increased over the previous year.
The Dell Hayden Memorial Child Advocacy Center housed in the Family Crisis Center covers Barton, Pawnee, Rush and Stafford counties. In 2016, the Dell Hayden Center’s numbers were:
• In all, 342 victims were served, including 176 children and 166 non-offending care givers.
• There were 102 forensic interviews and 22 medical assessments.
“This was a huge increase,” Wondra said. The total jumped about 35 percent.
In all, 70 percent of these victims were from Barton County.
A multi-faceted problem
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that “intimate partner violence (also known as “domestic violence”) is a serious, preventable public health problem that affects millions of Americans.” In all, 25 percent of all Americans, and all Kansans, will experience some form of domestic violence.
Furthermore, in 2015,intimate partners committed 40 percent of homicides of women and 7 percent of homicides of men. In the same year, intimate partners carried out 25 percent of all homicides in Kansas.
But, the CDC notes, the under-reporting of these violent crimes is widely known.
The term “domestic violence” means intimate partner violence. Intimate partner violence can take many forms and describes physical, sexual, financial, and emotional and psychological harm – in the dating process, which is called “dating violence,” and by a current or former partner or spouse. The violence can occur among heterosexual, same-sex, or any other type of intimate partner relationship and does not require sexual intimacy.
“Proclamations by community leaders signify the importance of domestic violence work. We are so grateful for our partner lawmakers, organizations and agencies, and individuals that contribute and work with us in our mission to prevent and eliminate sexual and domestic violence,” said Joyce Grover, KCSDV executive director, in a statement about the anniversary.