Sometimes Domestic Violence doesn’t make the front page when it should.

A momentous, life changing new law just got passed protecting Domestic Violence victims and this story was buried on page 18.  The news that made it on to page 1 was good, but not as impactful … {sigh} … such as homecoming weekend, 50th class reunion, new media center at the high school, a new restaurant, and new murals downtown.

Subject:  Your disheartening choice of front page stories

Dear Editor of the Ephrata Review,

Just like so many people in this world, I don’t expect you to have known these statistics, but now you will know them going forward.  😊  We all need to learn together.

I found a BIG story buried on page eighteen of this week’s Review – The Domestic Violence news on the governor’s signing of the Pennsylvania bill last week that requires the surrender of fire arms by accused abusers within 24 hours of being arrested.  What you don’t know is not one of your 10 story choices you made for the front page affect as many people as the DV story.  One in four women are a victim of DV and 1 in 7 men, and these numbers only account for these crimes that were reported to law enforcement and do not account for verbal abuse victims at all.  I don’t see anything on your page one that is as statistically as invasive into the lives of your readers than this breaking news.  I am not diminishing the wonderful stories and accomplishments on the cover, but I hope that since this is Domestic Violence Awareness month it will make the front page in the next week or two?

I know DV easily gets overshadowed by sharing October with Breast Cancer Awareness month but did you know that even though it’s still a disgustingly high number, with 1 in 8 women a victim of breast cancer, it does not affect as many women as domestic violence does in your neighborhood, workplace, church or synagogue?  DV is no respecter of persons, so you can’t escape it, but we are understandably not comfortable discussing or reading about it although it surrounds us all.

We seem to feel more comfortable putting Breast Cancer, or any cancer awareness on the front page of the Review and I get it.  I have found that there seems to be only one somewhat comfortable time to hear about Domestic Violence is when you or someone you love is a victim.  The rest of the time it’s just plain awkward.  I think the big difference between these two life-altering atrocities is that we still look at the victims of domestic violence as part of the problem and not an undeserving victim.  Being a victim means it came upon you without you having anything to do with it, like being a victim of cancer or a car accident.  I don’t think we are at a place yet where everyone views DV victims as being undeserving of the abuse they receive.

I think to make DV more palatable to discuss is that the next part of the dialogue that has to happen is realizing that the victim’s abuser will attack anything in its path that it wants control over.  The victim was a mere placeholder, a target.  If it wasn’t them, it would have been someone else.  Just like a tornado.  If you move into its path, you will become the next victim.  Being a victim of domestic violence needs to stop being a social disgrace just as being a victim of cancer moved away from having a hush-hush social stigma itself over time.  Quit focusing on the victim’s actions/reactions during the crime and then we have more of a chance that they will escape their captivity sooner than later.   If we educate and understand more about DV, we can then create a soft landing pad for victims when they are ready to take the leap.

Abuser’s use their close relationship or proximity to get into the hearts, heads and emotions of their victims.  They use marriage and intimate relationships as a tool, to create a controlling and brainwashing type of environment to have power over their victims.  It does not “take two” to have a fight or argument in a relationship where the goal of one of the partners is to abuse, punish and control.

Here’s a quote from a DV victim “I was just a… placeholder.  I could have been any woman.  It didn’t matter that it was me.  It didn’t matter what I said, how I said it, when I said it or how he interpreted it.  I could have been any other woman in the world and he would have still needed to exert power and control over any woman in that position as his wife.  I needed/ we need to remove the phrase “it takes two” from our vocabulary when talking to women in a DV situation.   We need to stop blaming the victim as if she could have stopped it.”

I think it’s time we quickly move up to the next level of dialogue about domestic violence.  Do you remember the first time you saw Breast Cancer being discussed in public and/or when the sports athletes started wearing pink in October?  This dramatic change moved the dialogue right into our living rooms, amongst mixed company, and now we know more and can discuss the topic freely.  Let’s please all do our part, and use our platforms and newspapers to educate everyone we can on this much avoided topic.

Oh, and by the way, kudos to the Ephrata Borough Police Department.  They didn’t need the Governor to sign this bill in to legislation last week, because they have been proactively requiring the surrender of guns by alleged abusers for many years, along with only a small number of other police departments in the state.

Renee Roberts Kopp