October 11, 2006

Domestic Violence: Breaking the Silence

By Senator Lena C. Taylor

Have you ever been in an abusive relationship?  Do you know someone who has been in an abusive relationship? Odds are you answered yes to one of these questions—one in four women have at some point in their life been involved with an abusive partner. This is very troubling to me and, because this month is Domestic Violence Awareness month, I felt that it needed to be addressed.

The problem of domestic violence worries me because it an issue that is mostly ignored, despite the fact that this abuse has led to 61 deaths in the Milwaukee area since 2000. Sadly, this trend is not limited to adults, as children and teenagers are often victims too.  Why then, is this issue given so little attention by the public?

That answer may be difficult to reach, but one reason could be that domestic violence is mainly an issue that is left to the home. Many women feel ashamed or afraid to tell someone that they are in an abusive relationship. For this reason we need to speak up and organize against this intolerable treatment of women. Victims of domestic violence need to know that they are not alone, and that there are people that can help.

I am calling on our community to stop this type of violence by removing it from the seclusion of the home by bringing awareness to the issue into the public. Many efforts should be commended, such as U.S. Congresswoman Gwen Moore’s coordination of the first Bride’s March in Milwaukee. This event honored the life of a woman who was brutally murdered on her wedding night by an ex-boyfriend and served to spread awareness of the ever-present problem of domestic violence. I appreciate these efforts, but much more is needed from our community and our city leaders.

Every year more and more women are part of an abusive relationship.  While the effects or causes of abuse are not always clear, there are ways to identify a potentially violent relationship if we know the warning signs.

If you or somebody you know is in a relationship or dating consider these characteristics about a partner: Does the partner have a history of family violence? Does the partner use violence or force to “solve” a problem? Does the partner use alcohol or drugs? Does the partner have strong traditional views about the role of the husband and wife? Is the partner constantly jealous or bad tempered? And/or, does the partner expect you to follow orders or advice? If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, then that relationship may be at higher risk for producing abuse.

It is important to remember that abuse takes on many forms. Domestic violence can be classified as emotional, physical, and psychological abuse. As a result, physical intervention is only part of the solution.

I am worried because many women feel as if it is too late for them; many feel helpless. That belief is simply not true. As women, we should not feel like we are alone. There are many people that are willing to help.


The National Domestic Violence Hotline, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, provides services in English and Spanish. If you or someone you know is being abused, contact the Hotline at (800) 799-7233.  

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