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Pahrump Mirror
Pahrump, Nevada
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May 15, 1997     Pahrump Mirror
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May 15, 1997
 

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Braised, broken, battered, the blood dried in her matted hair, Twyla didn't want to go to the hospital. Who would watch the children? The ten year old girl sat huddled on the couch cuddling her baby brother with the eight year old boy and two younger girls pressing against her. Kate wanted her to sign a complaint against Warren. How could this well dressed, manicured woman understand ifTwyla sent Warren to jail there would be no pay check to buy groceries and pay the rent? How could this pretty woman with the nervous laugh possibly know how desperate, defeated and frightened Twyla felt? Easy for Kate with her good job to tell Twyla to send Warren away. She couldn-'t know how much . "da needed her husband. ,,c, Kate did know. Her know- ing was the reason she volun- teered for night and weekend crisis counseling. "You can make it without him," Kate as- sured the shaking woman. "If you don't do something, he'll eventually kill you. Let us help yOU." Twyla reminded Kate of her mother, Isabel. Kate had been the little girl protecting herbroth- ers and sisters. She remembered herding them into the bedroom so they wouldn't have to watch their father beat and berate their mother. She would leave the room periodically to beg her daddy to stop hurting Mommy. When she was older, she would tell him to leave or she would call the police. Isabel would turn on Kate and say, "You better get him back. I need him. Crying and shaking with pain and fear, Isabel world sob, "All I want is someone to love me. All I want is someone to love me.'" 1 love you, Mommy," would usually be answered with a slap. "You sent him away. You get him back." He always came back, and he stayed until he died, abusive to the end. Married young to a handsome Marine, Kate had a husband who adored her. She worked while he went to college. When he settled into a secure career, Kate went to college. Victor was always the attentive, loving husband. Kate was bright, petite and pretty. A perfect couple with two adorable children. Family and friends were surprised when Kate opted for divorce instead of a 25th anniversary celebration. Most were shocked to hear of years of violence. Kate's frequent flights to the women's shelter or her best friend's house. Shame, guilt and denial had motivated Kate to conceal the terror of her private life. More than anything, she didn't want to he like her nmtlmr. Twyla accepted her abuse. Her father beat her mother. Most of the men she knew beat their women. But, it was worse now. Kate was righL She needed to get out before Warren killed her. She didn't know if she could. Jeanna, the survivor of child abuse discussed in earlier articles, married an older man when she was 15. He beat her as did two successive husbands, one she stayed with for 17 years. I didn't know anything but abuse," she said. '1 just thought that's how my life was." She first received help ,rough a volunteer likeKate who came when contacted by ue police. Domestic violence cuts across all social, economic and ethnic lines. Ellen was married to apopular medical doctor. She was the young, second wife. Like the first wife, Ellen was prone to "accidents" that sent her to the emergency room. She didn't find much sympathy or support when she left the doctor. Her mother said, "You could have tried harder to get along. He is always very nice to me." Most people thought she was crazy. She had everything. They didn't want to know about the scars she carried as lifetime reminders of the nice doctor. Of the many domestic violence myths, "if she puts up with it, she must like it" is perhaps the cruelest. It puts the blame on the victim instead of the perpetrator. No one likes to be battered. Allowing perpetrators to get away with it encourages them to continue the violence. Women are often afraid to leave. Many times the perpetra- tor has threatened their lives, threatened to take the children and intimidated them in other ways. Victims are also worried they cannot provide for themselves and their children. Many do not have family support, and agency help can be intimidating and take 30 days or longer. Victims often feel guilty, ashamed and blame themselves. Like Kate, they are often reluc- tant to let anyone know what is happening to them. Many feel it is their responsibility to "deal with it." Domestic violence is com- plex and as old as civilization. For hundreds of years we have treated it as a personal, domes- tic problem. Family business. Treating battering as a private issue and prosecuting it as a misdemeanor, or not at all, gives it a tacit societal okay. One suggestion of merit is, "We' ve got to do what Mothers Against Drunk Driving did: We've got to stigmatize vio- lence." A police chief recom- mends, "a change in the law that would follow along the lines of DUI laws, that third time offense is a mandatory felony, mandatory prison time." If battering is going to stop the perpetrator must he held accountable for his actions. He cannot have his "hands slapped," and be allowed to go on as if nothing has happened. He needs to know his behavior is not acceptable, and he will be penalized for his abuse. It may be impossible to ever know how prevalent domestic violence is. We do know victims seeking help has increased dramatically. The Domestic Violence in Nevada report states: "In 1989, domestic violence programs in Nevada provided services to 10,340 victims of domestic violence. In 1994, that figure rose to 24,442. This represents a 136% increase over a five year period." As outreach rrvices improve the figures can be expected to grow at an even more accelerated rate. Community involvement and individual effort are needed to help end domestic violence. We cannot afford to "look the other way." Pabrump has two shelters, one county and one private, for abused and abandoned animals. It has no shelter for victims of domestic violence. A battered woman can call 911 to summon a Sheriff' s Officer to stop the abuser. She will then have to rely on the court for protective orders. If she has no family or friends who can lend support, what can she do? She can contact No-to-Abuse at 751-1118 or toll free 1- 800-882-2873. They have support systems and counseling and will do their best to help the victim, but they don't have a shelter. They can and do refer victims to a shelter in Las Vegas. Men are the perpetrators in over 95% of reported Domestic Violence cases. They are also victims. Abused Men is a growing category and support groups to help them are on the increase. Next week, we'll look at Abused Men. We need to be aware always that, "There's No Excuse for Domestic Violence." 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