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Domestic violence happens in all neighborhoods. A community conversation is planned to find ways to prevent it.
Sunday, September 1, 2013
“It’s a nice neighborhood,” the man who lived across the street said when police were called last month to a Salem home where a husband shot his wife dead, then turned the gun on himself.
Never any disturbances there. Not the kind of place violence resides.
“Nothing seemed out of sorts. I think everybody here was profoundly sad,” said a business owner after two of his employees were found dead of murder-suicide in a house they shared on Brandon Avenue in Roanoke. No signs of trouble. Not the kind of couple who ends up like this.
Every few months, the headlines report the horrific end to an intimate relationship that erupted into a final act of violence. We didn’t know, we say of those who kept it hidden. We didn’t know what to do, we say of those whose cries for helps were silenced by their tormentor.
Domestic violence cuts across all ages, gender, race, position in the community and income brackets. But as the Domestic Violence Resource Center reports on its website, people living in poverty are at a three times higher risk of intimate partner violence than those with the highest incomes. But those with the fewest resources are more likely to seek help than the affluent.
Knowing what resources are available can be the key to unlocking the chains of domestic violence.
To that end, Roanoke Councilman Sherman Lea is hosting Strengthening Families: A Community Conversation about Family and Intimate Partner Violence on Sept. 19 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Roanoke Civic Center Exhibit Hall. The program, sponsored by the city of Roanoke and Total Action for Progress, is free and open to all to attend.
“We’re hoping to have a good crowd and a good strong, frank conversation about domestic violence and do whatever we can to strengthen our families,” Lea said.
Lea became a crusader against domestic violence after a series of tragic events in 2005. Early efforts were city-centric, but Lea is seeking to reach out to the broader community because domestic violence is not confined to the city’s borders.
“This will be a valleywide conversation with all law enforcement, criminal justice officials, program providers, elected officials and most importantly victims, perpetrators and concerned citizens,” Lea said.
Through all those voices, each lending a different perspective, he expects the evening to offer insight into how better the community can develop a strategy that strengthens families and minimizes domestic violence.
“Domestic violence and family violence are things we do not like to talk about,” Lea said. But not talking allows it to continue unchallenged.
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