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Editorial: Domestic violence remains too prevalent and puzzling

Sep. 08, 2013 @ 10:00 PM

America has made a lot of progress on the domestic violence front over the past few decades.

Statistics show that incidents of "intimate partner violence" -- incidents between spouses, ex-spouses or partners -- declined almost 64 percent between 1994 and 2010, according to the Department of Justice. More intervention, shelters and better policing all have helped to bring those numbers down.

But that is of little consolation to the families and friends of a man and his ex-wife found shot to death in his East Pea Ridge home last weekend. Investigators are still piecing together what happened between the two Saturday night, saying only that evidence indicates it was an incident of violence between the two parties and that a single firearm was found.

Friends and family members were shocked and shaken by the deaths. They acknowledge the two had had their ups and downs, but no one had seen or suspected any pattern of aggression or violence.

But that can be part of the tragedy of domestic violence. Help is available, but this still very prevalent problem is one too often unforeseen or shrouded by silence.

Even the most conservative estimates show that about 600,000 women and 100,000 men are victims of intimate partner violence each year, accounting for about 30 percent of the murders among women. But those numbers are just the tip of the iceberg, because much of the violence is never reported. The Center for Disease Control estimates that as many as 12 million women and men could be victims of some type of violence or stalking each year.

While domestic violence initiatives have increased both locally and nationally, experts say that there is still much to learn about the signs of serious violence and strategies that can help prevent it. Although about three-fourths of Americans say they know someone who has been the victim of domestic violence, for most of us, it remains an unpredictable puzzle.

One promising national initiative is working to pull together data on this type of violence from across the country. Eighteen states are now reporting to the National Violent Death Reporting System operated by the CDC.

Researchers hope that by gathering more information and looking at factors such as family histories and dynamics and social and economic conditions, they can develop and implement better strategies to prevent violence in the home.

Ohio is now participating in the program, and that is something officials in West Virginia and Kentucky should consider as well.

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