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Editorial: Support local efforts to end domestic violence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Domestic and sexual violence affect millions of individuals locally as well as across the nation and world.

The facts are sobering and reinforce the need to continue domestic violence prevention.

According to information from the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women, nearly one in four women are beaten or raped by a partner during adulthood and each year approximately 2.3 million people are raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend.

n One in six women and one in 33 men have experienced an attempted or completed rape.

n Every day in the United States, an average of three women are killed by a current or former intimate partner.

Domestic violence and sexual assault severely impact not only victims, but entire communities. In addition to the devastating damage suffered by victims and their families, these crimes also have huge financial costs.

n During the 2010-11 fiscal year an estimated 320 primary victims were served by Headwaters Intervention Center and the Family Crisis Center.

n After calculating medical costs, court and law enforcement costs, property damage and costs incurred from lost productivity, domestic violence costs $16,449 a year per woman abused.

n Between one-quarter and one-half of domestic violence victims report that they lost a job, at least in part, due to domestic violence. Women who experienced domestic violence are more likely to experience periods of unemployment, have health problems, and be welfare recipients.

n Domestic violence has been estimated to cost employers in the U.S. up to $13 billion each year.

Children are particularly vulnerable as both victims of and witnesses to domestic and sexual violence. In order to break the cycle of violence, we must intervene and provide services.

n Approximately 15.5 million children are exposed to domestic violence every year.

n 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused before the age of 18. Incest accounts for half of all sexual abuse cases.

n Young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence.

n Children exposed to violence are more likely to attempt suicide, abuse drugs and alcohol, run away from home, engage in teenage prostitution, and commit sexual assault crimes.

n Men exposed to physical abuse, sexual abuse, and domestic violence as children are almost four times more likely than other men to have perpetrated domestic violence as adults, according to a large study.

Congress's commitment to improving the response to domestic and sexual violence has made a significant difference in the lives of victims. The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA), enacted in 1984, has been the foundation of the response to domestic violence victims, including shelters and outreach programs across the country.

The landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), first authorized in 1994, has changed the way federal, tribal, state and local entities respond to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking.

n VAWA saved an estimated nearly $14.8 billion in net averted costs in its first six years alone.

n The number of women killed by an intimate partner has decreased by 34 percent.

The local Headwaters Intervention Center is hosting the Walk to End Domestic Violence Thursday, Oct. 25. The walk starts at 11:30 a.m. at the Hubbard County Courthouse and ends at the HIC center. Consider joining this important cause.