The county Board of Commissioners on Tuesday declared October “Domestic Violence Awareness Month” in the county, noting the work done by the Centre County Women’s Resource Center in helping victims of domestic violence.
The board was joined by CCWRC Outreach and Education Director Jody Althouse, who gave a presentation on the epidemic of domestic violence and how the center has helped the county.
Althouse said domestic violence has gained national attention due to the recent video of former Baltimore Ravens football player Ray Rice and his actions against his then-fiancee Janay Palmer.
“Sometimes it takes a national event to bring domestic violence into the spotlight,” she said, “But the truth is it happens year-round in all communities, including ours.”
“Is there domestic violence in Centre County?” she asked.
In the 2013-14 fiscal year, she said, the CCWRC has served almost 1,100 adults and children with domestic violence services at its State College and Bellefonte locations. It assisted almost 200 people with protection-from-abuse orders, and gave almost 140 residents emergency shelter.
In all, she said, shelter has been given almost 3,800 total days for the year. Women and children up to 18 are housed on site, and men are housed in undisclosed locations around the county.
Domestic violence is not rare. Each year, 1.3 million women are victims, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Althouse said. One in every four women will experience domestic violence each year.
When it’s presented as statistics, domestic violence is often dismissed, she said. But in the Rice case, “people saw a video. They saw a real face and name and put pieces together.
“One in four is so huge,” she said. “We want people to know this is happening to people you know, to people you’re connected to.”
People can help by listening without judgment, asking to help or simply believing the victim is telling the truth, Althouse said.
“Silence hides violence.”