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October Is Both Domestic Violence And Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Updated October 20, 2016 7:29 AM
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(BEDFORD) - Debbie Beeler, Director of Children's Services for Hoosier Uplands and a member of the Lawrence County Domestic Violence Coalition, has personally felt the destruction of domestic violence and witnessed the heartache of breast cancer. Today she will share her thoughts on those subjects:

Each month throughout the year there are numerous causes promoted by groups and organizations to raise awareness of an issue. Wikipedia lists 25 causes that are recognized during the month of October alone. To most of us, October is known as breast cancer awareness month, easily recognizable by the pink ribbon symbol and pink clothing donned by everyone from survivors of breast cancer to players in the NFL with their pink shoes, gloves and pink ribbons painted on their playing fields.

October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The symbol associated with domestic violence awareness is the purple ribbon. The color purple was chosen as a unifying symbol of courage, survival, honor and dedication to ending domestic violence.

Both of these causes are extremely important to me. Both my mother and sister had breast cancer. My sister is a 14 year breast cancer survivor. Domestic violence awareness is important to me because on October 7, 2009 one of my Head Start teachers, Denise Caraway, was killed by her husband.

Domestic violence is prevalent in every community and affects all people regardless of age, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality. Physical violence is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior as part of a much larger, systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence can result in physical injury, psychological trauma, and even death. The devastating consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and last a lifetime.

Lawrence County is not immune to the problem of domestic violence. A brief review of The police logs from October 1-17, 2016 indicated that at least 66 incidences of harassment, protective order violations, threats, intimidation, and assault were reported to law enforcement agencies in Lawrence County during the period as well as nine arrests made for domestic battery.

I thought about the contrast in the level of public awareness between the two issues so I looked up statistics regarding incidences of breast cancer and of domestic violence. What I found was somewhat surprising.

One in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime while one in four women will be affected by domestic violence in her lifetime. In 2016 an estimated 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed and 61,000 new cases of non- invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed. This means that approximately 307,660 women will be affected by breast cancer this year. In the U.S. an average of 20 people are physically abused by an intimate partner every minute. This equals more than 10 million abuse victims annually.

The number of women affected by domestic violence each year is more than triple the number that will be diagnosed with breast cancer. This was a staggering revelation to me.

The official observance of breast cancer awareness began in 1985 and much has been accomplished in the 31 year history of the movement. With the attention given to the issue of breast cancer and early detection coupled with advances in the medical field, lives are saved each and every day. This is amazing!

The first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed in October 1987--only two years after the first Breast Cancer Awareness Month observance yet there are three times as many women affected by domestic violence than diagnosed with breast cancer. I guess it's true that domestic violence thrives when we are silent.

Lawrence County officials came together in 2011 to establish the Lawrence County Domestic Violence Coalition as the result of a CDC study conducted in 2010. The group continues to meet quarterly. Much has been accomplished in the five years since the coalition began however despite our efforts issue of domestic violence continues to grow in Lawrence County. In my opinion one of the greatest accomplishments from our efforts has been the implementation of the Domestic Violence Problem Solving Court in July 2014.

I was privileged to attend the very first Domestic Violence Problem Solving Court graduation held on October 4th in Superior Court I. I listened as each of the first three graduates told their stories. They shared the tremendous differences this program has made in their lives and talked about the skills they have learned. Also attending the ceremony were 14 additional individuals who are enrolled in the program. I commend the three graduates and the 14 participants currently enrolled for making the commitment to change their lives through this opportunity. Change is not easy but the rewards can be endless.

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