October has been designated as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in an effort to help educate people about domestic violence, so that more people will be aware of the issue and hopefully, help prevent further violence.
Hopkins County Sheriff’s Crime Prevention Specialist Rex Morgan earlier this month met with a few local women (all of whom have contact with numerous individuals during the course of work or other community involvement) to better inform them about the issue, so they can help carry the message into the community.
“The majority of family violence victims are female, 73 percent, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Females accounted for 84 percent of spousal abuse victims and 86 percent of abuse was from a boyfriend,” Morgan noted.
NCADV estimates that one in every four women, in her lifetime, will experience domestic violence, while one in 33 men have an attempted or completed rape. An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.
Morgan said the cost of domestic violence is quite costly. More than $5.8 billion a year is spent on intimate partner violence, $4.1 billion of it going to medical and mental health services, according to NCADV. There were 12,356 adults living in domestic violence shelters in 2006, a year in which 8,372 forcible rapes were reported and 120 homicides as a result of domestic violence. Of those homicides, 43 percent were committed by a spouse and 24 percent by a dating partner.
And it’s not just adults who are affected. Six children were killed in Texas as a result of domestic violence in 2006, according to NCADV, and dating violence among young Texans is also said to be on the rise, Morgan noted.
More than 27 percent of young people were reported to have been victims of physical dating violence. That figure increases to 50 percent when emotional and verbal abuse are factored in, according to Texas Council on Family Violence.
“Studies show that boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults,” said Morgan, noting the need to educate people what constitutes domestic abuse and that it’s not acceptable.
Morgan also gave them a handout with related statistics (domestic violence information from NCADV and human trafficking data based on U.S. Department of State, www.castla.org, the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) and offers a few safety tips for parents and single parent moms, including information about human trafficking, which often involves physical and sexual violence.
To parents, he recommends not letting teenage daughters travel out of the country or to border towns, especially unsupervised. He also recommends monitoring teens’ Internet communications to see who they are in contact with and what’s going on in their lives, and reinforce to daughters especially that they don’t have to “settle” when dating, and definitely not “for a creep.”
“Single parent moms, if you decided to date again, make sure you know who you’re dating,” recommends Morgan.
One way to find out if a person has a history as a sex offender is to look them up on Texas Department of Public Safety Sex Offender Registry. Simply go to the DPS webpage: http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/ and click on the “Sex Offender Registry Search” link toward the bottom of the page. Then select Public Sex Offender Registry, to search by name, address, zip code, county or by institute of higher education.
“It’s scary,” said Merry Covington, upon learning that 15,000-17,500 peopler are “trafficked” each year, with 82 percent of all cases of human trafficking investigated or suspected in the U.S. to be for sex trafficking.
According to Morgan’s research, 199,00 incidents of sexual exploitation of minors occur in the United States. Seventy-one percent of runaway youth or youth characterized as “throwaways” are at risk for prostitution.
“I did’t realize there were that much going on,” Betty Lou McKenzie, an employee at Sulphur Springs Independent School District. “I didn’t realize so many children were stolen and sent overseas and sold. I didn’t realize there were so many.”
“You see movies about it once in a while, but not enough to really realize how prevalent — that kids two and three — are taken and forced into slavery, sex offenses. They’re so small, so young, they don’t know the difference,” Hope Weir said.
“I don’t think we see enough with statics,” McKenzie said.
For more information about domestic violence, human trafficking or other safety or crime prevention topics, including to schedule an educational presentation, contact Morgan at Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office at 903-438-4040; leave a message.
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