Arkansans are known for our neighborly acts of kindness. We are a compassionate statewide community, and when someone we know is in need, we work to find a solution for their troubles.
However, there are some Arkansans who need our help, but are afraid to ask for it. While these people may be our neighbors, friends or even relatives, they usually hide their troubling situations from us. That's because victims of domestic abuse often are too intimidated or ashamed to ask for support that they desperately need. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and it's important to learn about and address the plights of these victims, most of whom are women.
Many domestic-violence victims do not seek help for physical abuse and emotional trauma because they believe they have nowhere to turn. Fortunately, there are at least 36 local domestic-violence programs in our state, and in the past five years, those programs have supported about 22,000 Arkansas women. Apart from trying to find a safe haven for victims, these programs also provide transportation, legal representation and therapy.
Through the Arkansas Coalition for Domestic Violence, victims can connect with these programs to find security and shelter. The rest of us can find ways to volunteer or donate clothing, food, furniture or money to shelters or other organizations. More information is available through the coalition's Web site at domesticpeace.com.
More private companies are also getting involved in providing resources, as well. Through their HopeLine program, Verizon Wireless collects unused phones and accessories and gives them to those who have suffered domestic violence. Wireless phones have brought victims better access to emergency and support services, and trustworthy ways to contact family and friends.
The consequences of abuse are often grim. Over the past decade, Arkansas has had high rates of domestic homicides per-capita when compared to the rest of the country. And the children in these situations, while not always counted in statistics, suffer tremendous stress. More than 65 percent of men who abuse their partners also abuse their children. Statistically, an individual who witnesses domestic violence as a child is much more likely to be an abuser in adulthood.
Domestic violence and abuse do not discriminate. They occur within all age ranges, ethnic backgrounds and economic levels. The bottom line is that violent abusive behavior is never acceptable. It is a criminal violation of an individual's dignity, security and humanity. No one should have to live in fear in their own home.
The women and children affected by this violence often fail to realize their full potential. Every victim we are able to rescue can be another person able to make Arkansas a better place. Raising public awareness of domestic violence and the needs of its victims and survivors is crucial to the safety and well-being of our communities. And if you are a victim, please reach out and seek assistance. Your fellow Arkansans stand ready to help.