To The Editor:

Domestic violence is a pervasive problem that impacts people in every community. Ours is no exception. Each year Turning Point responds to a growing number of requests for support, shelter and advocacy. During the past 12 months we have served more than 400 people experiencing violence.

We’ve grown accustomed to noticing the woman with the black eye, but there are often no outward signs to show a person is being abused. Some may experience psychological and emotional manipulation that makes them question their worth and keeps them apprehensive of what their partner might do next. Others have been told that their children will be harmed if they don’t act in the way their partner demands.

These victims may not have bruises, but the trauma they experience is no less real. Many will go unnoticed as they go about their daily routine while silently struggling with the trauma of being abused by a person they love. They are your cashier at the grocery store, your child’s classmate in school or the person you sit next to in church. They are your neighbors, and may be your friends or family.

Victims are kept silent by communities that don’t believe them, fail to hold abusers accountable or turn a blind eye. Victims are blamed every time they are asked, “Why don’t you leave?” But leaving is not always the safest option. In fact, the severity of violence is likely to increase as victims attempt to leave an abusive partner.

So this October, let’s recognize domestic violence awareness month by changing the script. Rather than asking “Why don’t you leave?” ask “What do you need?” Help victims reach the trained advocates at Turning Point.

Jolynn Houchins

Executive director, Turning Point

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