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Every community's dirty little secret Published on Wed, Nov 4, 2009 by Robert Spinks, Sequim (WA) Police Chief http://www.sequimgazette.com/spinks www.ci.sequim.wa.us/police

Editor's note: Today begins a monthly column written by Robert L. Spinks, chief of the Sequim police department. Its purpose is to inform Sequim Gazette readers about crime and law enforcement issues that lie behind our routine police and courts coverage.

Every neighborhood, town and city has a dirty little secret. It's something that lurks in hushed whispers, behind closed doors and among friends.

domestic violence is an epidemic that affects communities across the country regardless of age, race, or socioeconomic background."

Generational abuse Domestic abuse is a gift that keeps on giving; it's a sad truth that boys raised in a violent home tend to fall into that same violent pattern as men, while girls are drawn into the same unbalanced relationships that they watched their mothers endure.

In Sequim, this secret is reported to police about once every week, year after year. Of course, how much isn't reported to police is part of that dirty secret of domestic violence.

October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month. What have you done to make our community safer?

Domestic violence refers to a pattern of power and control where one family member, intimate partner or ex-partner physically or psychologically dominates another. Domestic violence includes physical, sexual, emotional and psychological actions or threats. Domestic violence knows no boundaries. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says, "We know

President Barack Obama issued a proclamation noting that domestic violence leaves a devastating impact on women, men and children of every background. Domestic violence has come a long way from the days where a wife might take a beating at the hands of her husband and the police would view such an assault as a family issue and

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walk away. That was standard procedure in the 1940s through the 1970s. In recent decades, there has been a steady swing toward mandatory arrest laws that no longer require a victim's cooperation.

the most dangerous time for a woman who is being battered is when she leaves. Yet, there are nearly three times as many animal shelters in the United States as there are shelters for battered women and their children.

According to a 2006 Group Health Survey, more than 44 percent of Washington women over 18 will suffer or already have experienced some form of abuse by an intimate partner. Nationwide, the estimate is 5.3 million intimate partner victimizations each year among U.S. women ages 18 and older.

Healthy Families of Clallam County is our safety net, providing counseling, emergency shelter and assistance in obtaining court orders.

FBI: 1 in 4 will suffer

Learn more by calling 452-3811 or check its Web site at www.healthyfam.org. If you need help, call the domestic violence hotline at 360452-HELP.

The FBI says 1 of 4 women in American will be the victim of domestic violence in her lifetime. Not a happy thought when you think of your own mother, sister or daughter becoming the next victim. With nearly half of all assaults in America and half of all murdered women being intimate partner related, the cost is horrific. There are other victims, too. Often forgotten are the 63 percent of the young men convicted for homicide between the ages of 11 and 20 who are serving time for homicide for killing their mothers' abusers. Today, one of the fastest growing areas for domestic violence involves assaults, intimidation and stalking of dating teenagers in high school and college. Students who experienced physical violence in a dating relationship are more likely to use drugs and alcohol, are at greater risk of suicide and carry patterns of abuse into future relationships. Truly the ugly gift that keeps on giving.

Every year, Healthy Families provides nearly 3,000 shelter bed nights to victims in our county and provides 5,000 more bed nights for transitional housing.

Sure, we're all busy. We all hate to stick our nose into our friends' and co-workers' business and we hate to anger someone for stepping up and taking a stand. But inaction is the same as endorsing the hard backhand strike, the fist to the side of a head, the belt ripping across the back of a crying mother.

Treat a woman like a dog In my 30 years in policing, I've seen the broken bodies, destroyed dreams and withered spirits. I've witnessed the cries, the blood, the broken bones - and the one truth I've found is that it rarely gets better; it usually escalates. Think about this - you might call the police if you saw a helpless pet left locked in a car. Then why wouldn't you do the same when you see a wife, partner or child locked in a violent relationship? The odds are that every person in Sequim will have the chance to make that call or intervene at least once in his/her lifetime.

Animals get more protection Leaving an abusive relationship is not easy. A study by the U.S. Department of Justice says

What will you do?

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Every community's dirty little secret