The toll that family violence places on families and society as a whole is overwhelming. Statistics indicate one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Although this violence also impacts men, 85 percent are women, indicating that women are the primary victims of the senseless violence.
Locally, Spring River Adult and Child Services (SACS) offers a hotline as well as referrals to shelters and vouchers for things the victims might need for both men and women who are victimized by domestic violence. SACS is a non profit agency that serves victims of both domestic physical and sexual assault in Sharp and Fulton counties.
Lynne Barber, executive director of SACS, said October is Domestic Violence Prevention Month. In the state of Arkansas 24 women and 4 men died in 2009 as a result of domestic violence. She said one of the victims, Theresa Kosick was from Sharp County. Many will remember her death earlier in the year at the hands of her long time boyfriend. Kosick was wheelchair bound and was shot by her long time live-in boyfriend. He is currently serving a sentence in the Arkansas Department of Corrections.
Barber said Oct. 29, SACS will present a display in the main hallway of Ozarka College at Ash Flat. The display will house visual tributes to victims of domestic violence. She said this is SACS way of honoring the victims and also a celebration for those victims who have broke free from domestic violence. Barber would like to encourage the public to take time to come out and see the display from 11 a.m. throughout the day.
Barber said domestic violence knows no social or economic boundaries and told a story of a lady who spoke in Little Rock at a recent rally she and her husband Thom, a Struggle Buddiess Christian Ministry volunteer and local survivor Joan Trottier attended. She said Melissa Hobbs Merryman, RN, BSN, JD, and attorney at law, told a vivid story of her transition from victim to survivor. Hobbs, who is now a practicing attorney told of leaving her $300,000 home to escape domestic violence.
During the rally, Barber said there are silhouettes displayed for all those who lost their lives in the state as well as one for those who endure this terrible violence, yet never report the event to authorities.
A shirt commemorating the life of Bridgette Royal of Pleasant Plains will also be on display at Ozarka. Royal was a co-worker of Barber's husband at Pro-Dentec in Batesville. Royal was killed at the hands of her husband, who then killed himself Oct. 21, 2008.
In the United States 1.3 million women will be physically assaulted each year, mostly by an intimate partner and nearly one-third of female homicides are committed by their partner. These statistics speak volumes and of the women who are killed, between 70-80 percent had been abused by their killer prior to their death. Statistics provided by the United States Department of Justice states that females between 20-24 are at the greatest risk for violence
Many do not consider the toll violence takes on families and children. Boys who witness violence as a child are twice as likely to abuse their partners when they become adults, thus creating a seemingly unending circle of family violence.
Sadly, as high as the numbers of victims are for domestic violence, it is estimated that only one in five of these events are ever reported.
Domestic violence also takes a toll on the workplace in the form of lost work and lowered productivity. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence says that nationally victims lose 8 million days of paid work during their lives. Essentially, this type of violence affects every aspect of ones life and prevention through education seems to be the only way to lower these senseless statistics.
In 2008, SACS outreach office assisted over 400 persons. Advocates for the program also helped victims to obtain 107 orders of protection and assisted with court advocacy for 120 children. Since January, SACS has assisted 94 persons in protection orders and provided referrals for safe shelter to 14.
In addition to the assistance SACS advocates give victims, they also help with public educational projects regarding domestic abuse, date violence and sexual assault. Some of the services provided include crisis intervention and referrals to shelters in both Mountain Home and Batesville, peer counseling, legal and court advocacy, as well as assistance in obtaining basic needs such as clothing, food and household goods.
Those in need of help or who know someone who has been victimized by domestic violence may call the crisis line at 994-2551.
The assistance of the community through both monetary and volunteer hour donations would be very beneficial to the organization. Also, purchasing clothing and household items at the Highland SACS thrift store benefits these victims. The store is located on the four lane behind the A-Z building with blue awnings in Highland.