Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive, controlling behavior that escalates in severity and danger over time. Domestic violence can include physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, or financial abuse.
IS A PROBLEM THAT IMPACTS ALL OF US
In 2012, law enforcement reports documented 2,026 domestic and dating violence calls in the 15 parishes of Northeast and central Louisiana. (Data reported by law enforcement to Family Justice Center Ouachita or based on FBI data) That is 6.1 per 1,000 persons over age 12, nearly three (2.7) times the 2.3 reports of domestic violence (DV) per 1,000 over 12 in the U.S. (BJS Intimate Partner Violence, 2007)
In the parish’s urban center, the City of Monroe, the rate of domestic violence is even higher, at 18.4 or 8 times the national rate.
These incidents are often lethal. Louisiana is fourth in the U.S. in murders of female victims by males where domestic violence-related murders are typically reported. (Violence Policy Center, 2012)
Domestic violence affecting millions of individuals across our nation regardless of age, economic status, race, religion or education. One in 4 women will be the victim of domestic violence at some point in her lifetime. (NIJ/CDC, 2000) Men are also victims of domestic violence, as are couples in same-sex relationships. (BJS, 2007)
Children are particularly vulnerable as both victims and witnesses to domestic violence. Children exposed to violence are more likely to attempt suicide, abuse drugs, and run away from home. Men exposed to domestic violence as children are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults. (Strauss et al, 1990)
Domestic violence not only severely impacts victims and their families, but also entire communities including $4.1 billion in direction health care expenses (NCIPC, 2003), and up to $13 billion cost to employers each year. (BNA, Violence and Stress, 1990).
BUT THERE IS HELP
In 2012, The Wellspring provided direct services to 1,335 victims of the domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, and handled 2,305 crisis calls also related to those crimes.
Confidential, comprehensive services for victims of domestic violence and their children are available at no charge throughout Northeast Louisiana at locations within most parishes by The Wellspring and in Ouachita Parish at The Family Justice Center. Call (318) 323-1505 or 1-800-716-7233 for anytime 24-hour information or assistance.
Louisiana law permits a law enforcement officer who has reason to believe that domestic abuse has occurred to use all reasonable means to prevent further abuse, including immediate arrest.
Domestic violence in Northeast Louisiana is addressed as a community concern that is a blow to us all. In 1988, the SAFE (Stopping Abusive Family Environments) Task Force was formed by agencies in Ouachita Parish. In 2005, those agencies formed the Family Justice Center of Ouachita which has made the parish safer. The FJC uses co-location, a national best practice that puts agencies that serve victims under one roof, making it easier for those who need services to get them while batterers are held accountable for their actions. Since the center opened in 2005, rates of reports of domestic and dating violence have fallen by 47.6% (2,873 in 2004 vs 1,505 in 2012). Further, far more victims receive services, as shown by the 20.6% increase in persons served (557 in 2012 vs. 462 in 2006) since the first full year the FJC was operational.
In 2008, a similar community coordination Task Force was started in rural Northeast Louisiana parishes with the formation of the SAFER (Stopping Abusive Family Environments Rural Services) Task Force for rural agencies. Since then, service sites have been established in each parish, numbers of victims served have increased substantially, and national caliber trainings have been provided to a large number of the area’s service providers on national best practices in addressing domestic violence. New rural parishes continue to join the SAFER Task Force each year with continuing expansion in goals for services made available to the region’s victims.
Similar collaborative efforts are now expanding to Central Louisiana parishes.
BUT MORE WORK IS NEEDED
Despite widely available services throughout the region, reductions in rates of domestic violence since the Family Justice Center Ouachita (FJC) opened in Ouachita Parish, and increases in coordination among service providers regionally, domestic and dating violence in the region and state are still nearly three times national averages and are among the most lethal in the U.S.
HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN DO
If you think you may be in an abusive relationship, ask yourself the following questions about the person with whom you have a relationship. Does he or she:
• Embarrass me with bad names or put down?
• Not want me to talk to or spend time with my family and friends?
• Take my money?
• Make me ask for money or refuse to give it to me?
• Tell me that I am a bad parent or threaten to take away my children?
• Act extremely jealous of others?
• Lose his/her temper, strike you, break your possessions, or in other ways cause you harm?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you many need to find out more about domestic violence or talk to someone who can help. Call (318) 323-1505 or (318) 323-1543 or 1-800-716-7233 anytime day or night!
If you think someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, there are six things you can do:
1. Call the police if you see or hear violence in progress.
2. Learn about domestic violence services in your community like those provided by The Wellspring and Family Justice Center (info at wellspringalliance.org).
3. Give time, resources or money. Distribute domestic violence awareness materials at your workplace, school, or church. Arrange for informational and educational presentations or training for your church, civic, social and professional groups.
4. If you have a friend or co-worker who is afraid of his or her partner or who is being hurt, offer your support and refer them to The Wellspring at (318) 323-1505.
5. Model a respectful attitude toward your spouse in your home, with your family, and in your workplace. Avoid behaviors that demean or control others.
6. Build support among your colleagues and neighbors that abusive behavior and language is not tolerated in your neighborhood.
Get information or help locally for domestic violence:
* Call 911 if you are in immediate danger
* Read about domestic violence and The Wellspring’s services and locations at www.wellspringalliance.org services and locations or visit the Family Justice Center website at www.fjcouachita.org
* Call (318) 323-1505 or 1-800-716-7233 any time day or night for information or help
* To talk to someone about information or help, visit the Family Justice Center during normal business hours (M to Th 8:30 – 5 and Fri 8:30 – noon) at 620 Riverside Drive, Monroe. You can also visit offices of The Wellspring in Monroe, Bastrop and Winnsboro and other locations throughout the region (call (318) 323-1505 for more information).
** Services are free and confidential **