Lo­cal View: Time for us to unite against do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE -

Every nine sec­onds, a woman is as­saulted or beaten in the United States.

Every minute, 20 peo­ple are phys­i­cally abused by their in­ti­mate part­ners.

This means that more than 10 mil­lion men and women in our coun­try — in just one year — ex­pe­ri­ence do­mes­tic vi­o­lence. While these statis­tics pro­vided by the Na­tional Coali­tion Against Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence are stag­ger­ing, the im­pact of this ac­tion is far greater than the two peo­ple di­rectly in­volved. Do­mes­tic vi­o­lence goes be­yond the walls of some­one’s home. It’s an is­sue that can im­pact a com­mu­nity at any time.

Or­lando has seen and ex­pe­ri­enced how do­mes­tic vi­o­lence im­pacts our com­mu­nity with Omar Ma­teen, the Pulse night­club shooter, and Markeith Loyd, ac­cused of killing his preg­nant girl­friend and an Or­lando po­lice of­fi­cer. More re­cently, we’ve seen the im­pact of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence out­side of our com­mu­nity in the Suther­land Springs, Texas, killings by shooter Devin Kel­ley.

The com­mon el­e­ment is that the per­pe­tra­tors were abusers — or in Loyd’s case, his crim­i­nal his­tory in­cludes do­mes­ticvi­o­lence charges.

We as a com­mu­nity can do some­thing about this.

Do­mes­tic abuse is a world­wide epi­demic that takes the ral­ly­ing of the en­tire com­mu­nity to help its res­i­dents. If you are one of the for­tu­nate peo­ple who has never ex­pe­ri­enced do­mes­tic abuse, you should be aware that it is hap­pen­ing around you every day. With statis­tics show­ing that 1-in-3 women and 1-in-4 men will ex­pe­ri­ence do­mes­tic abuse in their life­time, it’s ev­i­dent that each of us likely knows some­one in this sit­u­a­tion — or will know some­one in the fu­ture.

Learn the signs of abuse, keep your eyes open, and lis­ten.

If you or a loved one is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing abuse, con­tact or­ga­ni­za­tions like Har­bor House of Cen­tral Florida, Help Now Osce­ola and Safe­house of Semi­nole. We have the re­sources to help the abused safely leave a sit­u­a­tion while pro­tect­ing other fam­ily mem­bers. We have the sup­port of law en­force­ment if a do­mes­tic-vi­o­lence sit­u­a­tion is tak­ing place.

More and more women and men are step­ping up and talk­ing about their sex­ual ha­rass­ment and as­sault ex­pe­ri­ences through the #MeToo cam­paign. Fi­nally, they can speak out, they can be heard, and they can be taken se­ri­ously — and we can do some­thing about it. The move­ment is inch­ing closer to ex­pos­ing do­mes­tic vi­o­lence as well, and it shouldn’t take a na­tional in­ci­dent to do so.

Let’s pro­tect our com­mu­nity, our fam­i­lies, our friends and our chil­dren, and take a no­tol­er­ance stance against this epi­demic. It’s time for the com­mu­nity to stand united against this vi­o­lence.

Let’s pro­tect our com­mu­nity and take a no­tol­er­ance stance against this epi­demic.

My Word: Michelle Sperzel is the CEO of Har­bor House of Cen­tral Florida.

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