Polk County Victim Services on domestic violence: 'It's your business'

Submitted by Dana Johnson & Gina Roue-Polk County Coordinated Victim Services
Crookston Times

Do you hear yelling from the house next door? It’s your business. Does your co-worker wear heavy make-up on to cover up bruises? It’s your business. Does your friend get call after call from their partner inquiring where they are at and what they are doing? It’s your business.

For far too long our society has looked the other way on domestic violence. We must make it our business to ask, “are you okay?” when we see an uncomfortable situation. We must make it our business to call for help. We must ask about the bruises that we notice. We must have the courage and compassion to ask the hard questions.

The FBI estimates that a domestic violence crime is committed about once every 15 seconds. Domestic violence is about establishing power and control over another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound another. In Minnesota, domestic violence accounts for ¼ of reported violent crimes, while an estimated 80% of domestic assaults go unreported. Domestic violence does not discriminate based on a victims age, gender, race, or social status.

Victims of domestic violence are often tired, scared, and feel alone. Changing the mindset from “why do they stay” to “why do they abuse” is the first step to ending victim blaming. It is never the victims’ fault when abuse occurs, it is always the abuser’s fault. The abuser chooses violence, not the victim. Understanding domestic violence and knowing the warning signs is the first step that we can all take in helping others. Statistics report that it takes a woman an average of 7 to 8 attempts at leaving before she is ready to leave an abusive relationship. It is important that we don’t give up on someone if they choose to stay in an abusive relationship. Abusers often intentionally seek to isolate their victims and victims need to know that there are others that support them and believe them.

It’s our business, and job, as a society to hold abusers accountable for their behavior. We need to let abusers know that the abuse is their fault and that it is not okay. There are domestic abuse treatment programs and counseling services available for abusers to get help to stop the abuse. Victims deserve to live a life free of abuse. Please help do your part in ending abuse. Don’t be afraid to speak up, make the call, and help stop abuse.

Help is available

If you need assistance, you call the MN Day One 24-hour crisis line at 866-223-1111, the National Domestic Violence line at 1-800-799-7233, Community Health Services, Inc. at 800-342-7756, or Polk County Coordinated Victim Services at 218-281-1554.

Members of Polk County Victim Services and Community Health Services Inc. distributed purple nail polish to local community merchants and agencies Friday to spread awareness during Domestic Awareness Month in October.