Letter: Safe Passage, police create new system for victims

Published: Monday, Oct. 9, 2017 1:12 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017 3:08 a.m. CDT

To the editor:

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Most of us are lucky enough to not have to think about domestic violence very much. We don’t live our lives with the emotional and physical scars of domestic violence. Some of us don’t know what this month is all about.

In our community, however, far too many live with or under the threat of intimate partner violence. They live through the ever-worsening cycle of tension, fear, abuse and apologies. They lose loved ones, taken by people who claimed to care for them. Too many survivors are left to pick up the pieces of shattered lives.

We cannot look the other way and pretend domestic violence doesn’t exist.

A young man from Genoa recently was arrested for assaulting his partner with a 9-inch knife, threatening her life. Another local man is in jail after stalking and telling multiple people he was going to kill his wife. These things are happening every day in our community, our neighborhoods and our homes.

This October, please don’t look away. Support the work of organizations such as Safe Passage that provide safety, healing and advocacy to survivors.

Talk with your children about the importance of being treated with respect by the people they love. Demand that your community hold abusers accountable.

There are many amazing opportunities to support survivors in DeKalb County and prevent future violence from ever taking place.

In addition to the many services Safe Passage provides to those struggling with domestic and sexual violence, including shelter, counseling, legal advocacy and prevention education, we are embarking on a new program with our law enforcement partners to better identify the risk to victims and enhance their safety.

In early 2018, we will train together to adopt and implement a lethality assessment protocol, through which officers at the scene of domestic violence calls will assess the severity of threat a victim faces and connect them immediately with the Safe Passage crisis line, where an advocate will explain and offer life-saving resources.

Domestic violence is a part of our current reality, but it does not have to be a part of our future.

This October, stand with survivors and stand with Safe Passage against domestic violence.

Together, we can create a safe and healthy community for all.

Mary Ellen Schaid

Executive director of Safe Passage