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Commentary: Working together to reduce domestic violence

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 2, 2013: Violence knows no boundaries and has no season.

It occurs in every race, zip code, income and education level. Yet as a society, we still ignore and downplay incidents of domestic violence.

On average, 24 people a minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States. Domestic violence is neither a men’s issue nor a women’s issue. It is a public health epidemic.

As one of the oldest and largest locally founded domestic and sexual violence organizations in St. Louis, Safe Connections works to prevent and end domestic violence, and support survivors as they reclaim their lives. Through our free education, crisis intervention, counseling and support services, we serve approximately 15,000 people each year.

While our outcomes are strong, there’s still much to be done in the way of awareness and action. We urge people to start conversations about how they can help take a stand against domestic violence — not just during the awareness month of October, but throughout the year.

Our calls to action:

▪ Raise awareness of the issues surrounding domestic violence.

▪ Build community knowledge about the available resources for those in need.

▪ Educate our youth with information and skills to develop healthy relationships, free from violence and abuse.;

▪ Recruit men as our allies and advocates in supporting our mission, and to serve as models to their peers regarding respectful, healthy behavior in dating relationships.

▪ Reach out to family, friends, colleagues and neighbors who are in need. Check out our tips at safeconnections.org.

Let’s end the silence and break the cycle of domestic violence.

Susan Kidder is executive director of Safe Connections.