NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

June 16, 2014

It takes a community to stop domestic violence

To the editor:

From Santa Barbara to Boston and points in between, Americans of all ages were filled with grief, outrage and a general sense of disbelief regarding the events of last week. Jared Remy pleaded guilty to the first-degree murder of his girlfriend and the mother of his child, Jennifer Martel, and then blamed her for his actions. His courtroom statement was outrageous and startling; the perpetrator blaming the victim for the crime he committed — the typical behavior of a batterer. The senseless killing of six people in Isla Vista, Calif., by Elliot Rodger, who blamed women as a gender for his murderous actions, has ignited a firestorm of anger and shock.

Here at the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center, we are on the front lines, dealing with incidences of domestic violence in our community on a daily basis. We maintain that if we are serious about preventing similar tragedies, we must address the gendered nature of domestic violence, starting with asking why men disproportionally commit violence against women, and why women who are killed in the U.S. are more at risk of being murdered by a current or former partner than by a stranger.

Last year the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center assisted 1,134 adults in the nine communities in which we serve; 1,068 or 94 percent of those served were female and 66 of our clients were male, which is less than 6 percent of the total served.

These recent cases, specifically the murder of Ms. Martel, remind us of the murder of our own client, in 2002, who was killed in her home by her husband while their young daughter was close by. After careful review and reflection of the case, we knew that for the countless other victims we would service we had to do all that we knew to do to prevent the next domestic violence homicide. That’s how our Domestic Violence High Risk Team (DVHRT) was born.

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