Statistics are important. They tell a story and paint a picture. Especially during October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month when the public is bombarded with statistics regarding domestic violence rates, numbers of murders by intimate partners, and charts with figures about children of families where there is domestic abuse.
But, what if we shifted the focus to talking about solutions for this epidemic? What about bringing to the public instances where rates of domestic violence in a specific city were reduced due to certain efforts of the police and citizens of that city? A group called Solutions Journalism is attempting to report on domestic violence and on other societal issues and concerns in just such a way. Their website, solutionsjournalism.org discusses their ongoing project Behind Closed Doors and their case study Behind Broken Doors, and how they approached writing on domestic violence in different communities throughout the US. The reporters were looking not only to provide statistics and details of incidents of domestic abuse, but also wanted to provide communities with solutions that worked in other cities that they covered.
For example, the journalists interviewed the police and DA in El Paso and discovered that they were approaching domestic violence in a different way, by establishing a local 24-hour Contact Domestic Violence Initiative which has helped bridge the time gap between a domestic abuse crime and building a case against the domestic abuse suspect. They took this creative approach to other cities while reporting on their domestic violence issues.
So what about New Jersey? It is not entirely clear if New Jersey is quite as progressive. In May, 2015, there was a roundtable discussion that brought together the governor, the legislature and law enforcement to discuss how to address domestic violence in New Jersey. The Office of the Governor’s website contained quotes from the discussion: “We face a huge challenge as we work to empower domestic violence victims to stand up for themselves, find them the assistance they need and end the associated stigma they face,” Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno said. “But we’ll do it together. And remember the bottom line – these discussions will lead to solutions. And these solutions will save lives.”
But, what are those solutions for victims in the Garden State? Lt. Governor Guadagno “discussed the importance of programs for children who have been victims of or witnesses to domestic violence, safe havens where victims can report abuse without fear of consequences, and increased awareness of the signs of abuse and education on how to safely offer help to victims.”
Hopefully these proposed programs and solutions see implementation. In the meantime, it may be beneficial to victims of domestic abuse to focus news coverage on solutions and prevention, and, on success stories, not merely statistics.
If you or someone you love is in an abusive situation, get help. If you are in danger, call 911 and leave the premises if possible. For information regarding obtaining a family court temporary or final restraining order, please contact us to schedule your free and confidential consultation with one of our compassionate attorneys experienced in handling domestic violence cases.
Domestic Abuse: Signs, Signals and Help
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