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Epidemic Violence

By Laurie Kotka

one – Mississippi

two – Mississippi

three – Mississippi

four – Mississippi

five – Mississippi

six – Mississippi

seven – Mississippi

eight – Mississippi

nine – Mississippi


Sobbing, “Mom, are you okay?”

“Ssssh, sweetie, it’s okay.”

“I’m scared, mom.”


one – Mississippi

two – Mississippi

three – Mississippi

four – Mississippi

five – Mississippi

six – Mississippi

seven – Mississippi

eight – Mississippi

nine – Mississippi


 “9-1-1, what’s your emergency?”

“Please help…my sister…her husband…he shot her.”


The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that in the United States, every nine seconds, a woman suffers assault or is beaten.


This past week, I received news that my cousin was brutally murdered by her long-time boyfriend. As the details were revealed, we learned that she had been stabbed and beaten. It was impossible to absorb. The sentiment was dully echoed by everyone stunned by the brutal robbing and achingly perceptible absence of her light.

Just the week before, a local woman was murdered by her husband. Many of her friends commented during interviews that she was a “sweet spirit” and notably kindhearted.

Inherent in the physical loss and compounded by the violence, screams the numbing reality that the absence of their beautiful lives is painful and wrong and just messed up.

Aside from their fate, the two women had something else in common – they were trying to leave.

With courage and strength and undoubtedly fear, they planned their escape. Motivated by a better life on the other side, they set their heartache aside and took that step. And in that single moment, they were stronger than their abusers ever were.

It is also in that moment that many victims of domestic violence lose their lives. Between 50% and 75% of domestic abuse related homicides occur at the point the victim attempts to leave or just after the victim has escaped.

I could go on. The statistics are staggering. How could I not know this? And why did it take a family tragedy to make me think?

There is Domestic Violence the political issue or the subject of Hollywood movies or The Rally Cause for activists. That Domestic Violence is out… there. Impersonal but horrible nonetheless, these news stories hurt our hearts for a time. It might even be something discussed briefly, “Did you hear about what happened to that woman…?”

But guess what?

There’s the kind of domestic violence that is right here.

I just didn’t see it for what it was and somehow managed to file it away, disassociated with its place as a part of Domestic Violence. I knew enough to leave it, but denied that my story was one of a larger dynamic.

By my personal experience, I am not alone. I stand in the company of a sister, friends, and coworkers.

By the statistics – I’m definitely not alone.

The numbers show

1 in 3 women

1 in 4 men

…in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

Stop here.

Think of three women you know. Mothers, sisters, friends. One of them has been the victim of abuse at the hands of their partner.

Now think of four men – fathers, friends, coworkers, teammates. One of them has also experienced that violence.

With such numbers, reality is, Domestic Violence is never just a policy discussion or a Hollywood movie. For someone close to you, it is their reality. That reality is not something we can afford to separate ourselves from.

If 1 in 3 people contacted ebola, that would be called an epidemic.

If 1 in 3 people within your circle of family and friends and coworkers were affected by the disease, the heartbreak would be unthinkable.

Where is the urgency when it comes to domestic violence?

We must stand in the gap between Domestic Violence as the subject of discussion and domestic violence that silently scars and erodes the lives of the people we love. Our policy makers and social workers can create programs to help, but those programs are only a part of the solution. They should never be something victims have to seek out in isolation and at the peril of running out of time.

Three women ran out of time today.

Disconnectedness is not an option. Because last week’s news story too soon becomes your personal heartache.

Not sure where to start?

Learn more about what domestic violence actually is.

Realize as a victim, you can find help here or by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

Educate yourself – beginning with recognizing the warning signs and learning what you can do to help. NDVH Help For Family and Friends.

Volunteer. Contact your local United Way for more information.





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3 Comments on Epidemic Violence

  1. You should email the editors at the Voices: Women section of Huffington Post with this. It’s very well written and drives the point home

  2. As someone who has experienced various types of abuse starting with family as a child, when you experience as a young adult it just feels familiar and normal. We have to teach kids when they are very young for them to understand it’s not ok. Bravo ?

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