SAAFEHOUSE offers services for National Domestic Awareness Month

According to the American Medical Association, over four million women are victims of severe assaults by boyfriends or husbands each year and one in four women is likely to be abused by a partner in her lifetime. Results from the National Family Survey also show marital violence occurs most frequently among women under 30.October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the Huntsville Sexual Assault and Abuse Free Environment House is taking part in informing the university and the community about domestic violence. The SAAFE House offers a variety of free services to people who are being abused and need help. Those services include a 24-hour confidential crisis line, counseling services, shelter, rape crisis intervention, children’s programs, violence intervention, legal advocacy, and education. Elizabeth Steiner, head of community relations for the SAAFE House, said they targeted day cares the first week of October, passing out pamphlets to inform people about domestic violence. They informed children and teachers of signs to watch for if they suspect someone may be the victim of abuse at home. Steiner said the SAAFE House is going to various hospitals this week, passing out pamphlets and informing people about domestic violence. They will go to police stations during the third week and pass out signs made by victimized children currently living in the SAAFE House shelter. During the fourth week of this month, they will be at SHSU to pass out pamphlets and focus more on date violence since many students at Sam Houston deal with it. “Dating violence, one form of domestic violence, is a problem that affects many SHSU students,” Steiner said. Steiner said some people might not even realize they are in an abusive relationship since abuse can take many forms such as emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. “Furthermore, many SHSU students may have grown up in abusive homes and may potentially carry this behavior into their adult lives unless they get help,” Steiner said. According to a news release written Oct. 1, Domestic Violence Awareness Month is a time for communities to come together and mourn those who have died as a result of domestic abuse, celebrate those who survived it, and “cooperatively do something to end this hideous epidemic.” Steiner said 95 percent of the cases of abuse involve a man abusing a woman. However, she added not all victims are women and not all abusers are men.Steiner said since the majority of victims are women, she addresses the general topic of domestic violence from the perspective that the woman is the one being abused.”We are not even phased when we hear that one out of three women murdered in this country are killed by the same man – their husband or boyfriend,” Steiner said. “Each and every one of us can reach out and assist the individuals that are living with the pain of abuse and dying at the hands of the individuals they once loved and adored.” Steiner said even though dating violence is a problem with no easy resolution, there are many ways to prevent it from happening. “Develop a respectful mindset toward women in your family, in your classes and in your daily environment,” Steiner said. “While little comments and actions may seem harmless, they represent a bigger picture about society’s derogatory attitude toward women.” Steiner said domestic violence could be prevented before it happens. “It must not take the murder of a woman and her beautiful children at the hands of her husband before neighbors cease to ignore the cries and sounds of abuse in their neighborhood,” she said. Steiner said one should ask several questions if they suspect a friend or loved one might be the victim of abuse. Some of these questions are whether the victim has mentioned problems at home, if her significant other places restrictions on her life, if there are changes in her child’s behavior, or if she has frequent “accidents” before work. Steiner said there are many ways to help victims, including encouraging them and offering support, helping them develop a plan to protect themselves and their children, and confronting them with the danger they may be in if they chooses to stay in the abusive relationship. Steiner said many volunteers at the SAAFE House are students, and volunteering is a good way to help prevent domestic and dating violence. She also said a good way to help prevent domestic abuse is to be watchful for warning signs of possible abuse. Domestic Violence Awareness Month was founded in October 1987. In a proclamation declaring this year’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month, President George W. Bush said, “Domestic violence spills over into schools and places of work; and it affects people from every walk of life. Though abuse may occur in the seclusion of a private residence, its effects scar the face of our nation.”

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