This column appears in the Nevada Appeal health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
Many times we hear about domestic violence once it’s too late. Our own community experienced a loss recently when Deputy Carl Howell was killed while responding to an incident of domestic violence.
Right now, we in Northern Nevada have an important opportunity to open up a conversation about violence and abuse in our own community. The Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence reported 1,057 individuals were victims of domestic violence in Carson City last year. Statewide, the number of primary victims of domestic violence was 41,447. How many more incidents of violence and abuse take place in secret and go unreported? Fear is common among those who are abused, and for this reason, many incidents of domestic violence are never brought to light, leading to prolonged suffering and isolation for the victims.
It’s up to everyone to help stop domestic violence. In many cases, outsiders wonder why victims don’t just leave. Often, people who are battered or abused don’t see themselves as victims. They are brainwashed into thinking the way they are being treated is “normal” or they deserve what’s happening to them. No one deserves to be hit, beaten, or battered.
People who are abused can be caught in a cycle, where tension builds in the relationship until the abuser acts out and perpetrates violence. This is followed by the abuser apologizing and promising to change. Then, there’s a period of relative calm, before the cycle starts over. Victims of abuse often believe their abuser when they tell them it’s the “last time.” Other times, the victim is forced to stay for other reasons, like financial support. Sometimes, victims stay because they are afraid of what may happen when she or he leaves, especially if the perpetrator has made threats against the victim’s loved ones. It’s important for friends or family of victims to help provide the support needed to see the abuse and leave the destructive pattern.
Here at Carson City Health and Human Services, we are mandatory reporters of violence and abuse against children. As care providers, we never want to see anyone suffer in an abusive situation. It’s important for those who use our clinic to know if we speak up to make a report about suspected abuse, it’s only because we care so much for our patients, and we want them to be safe. Also, mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect is the law for certain professions, such as teachers and healthcare workers.
People who are victims of violence and abuse, at home, at school, or elsewhere need to know there’s help for them. Here in Carson City, those who are in abusive situations can come to Carson City Human Services or contact Advocates to End Domestic Violence. Advocates’ Director, Lisa Lee, says the shelter in Carson City is the largest in Northern Nevada, with 51 beds. Victims of violence can seek refuge there for up to 5 months to escape a bad situation, and caring staff and counselors help victims find support and resources. Volunteers who wish to help can also contact the shelter for opportunities to be involved.
For advocacy, counseling or referrals, call the Nevada Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-500-1556 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233). Advocates to End Domestic Violence can be reached on the web at www.aedv.org or by phone at 883-7654.
For more information about other Health Department services, check out our website at www.gethealthycarsoncity.org or visit us at www.facebook.com/cchhs.