Domestic Violence

Micaela Burkhardt

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Domestic Violence

Every minute 20 people are abused by someone they are romantically involved with. That’s roughly 10,512,000 cases of domestic abuse a year. Domestic violence is a serious issue all around the world for people of all ages. As tragic as this is, domestic violence is a reality for some teens; sometimes their “perfect” relationship doesn’t turn out to be everything they’ve thought is was. According to DoSomething.org, a website that gives the opportunity for young people to do service projects, approximately 1.5 million teens in the United States have admitted to being intentionally hit or harmed by someone they have been romantically involved with. Domestic violence is not limited to just physical abuse; other actions classified as domestic abuse are, sexual, emotional, economic and psychological abuse. Not only is domestic violence emotionally and physically scarring, but also has long term effects such as: alcoholism, eating disorders, promiscuity, thoughts of suicide, violent behavior and more.

Human Activist Susan Still spoke out at the Stop The Violence Conference held at Missouri State about her experiences as a victim of domestic violence. Still suffered many years of abuse from her ex husband, musician Ulnar Lee Still. Still’s case is particularly well known because her ex-husband forced her young son to videotape him abusing her.

“When I met him at 18 I didn’t have a self esteem problem,” Still said. “I couldn’t understand how I went from a person who got all A’s in college who had dreams like everyone else to the person I saw in that video.”

The video that was released Still says was the not the first, but the second assault of three in one day.

“I was met with violence coming in the door from work and the whole weekend was filled with violence,” Still said. “That evening he called my family into the room as he downloaded the video and he interrogated me. He kept me within arm’s length so he could hit me whenever he wanted too.”

Still explains how in a relationship the abuse doesn’t just start after the first date but accumulates over time.

“I realized it doesn’t just happen overnight,” Still said. “It happened to me over time. Our abusers don’t just take us home and beat us; we are not stupid. Nobody would stay in that relationship, we meet a person that loves us and is awesome, but over time the control sets in.”

In some cases domestic violence is considered a misdemeanor; other times, the act of violence is so serious it is considered a felony. Misdemeanors are punishable by small fines or for up to a year, jail time. Felonies on the other hand, are punishable by large fines, jail time for over a year, mandatory rehabilitation courses and probation periods. During Still’s trial against her ex-husband the video was shown to the court. Still’s ex-husband was eventually prosecuted and found guilty of 12 counts of assault and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child. He was sentenced to the longest sentence in New York history for a non-deadly domestic violence case, 36 years in prison.

Locally, according to springfieldmo.gov, at the end of 2012 SPD reported 2,476 cases of domestic violence that year, an average of six cases per day. Springfield’s Harmony House provides shelter for victims of domestic abuse. They are the only domestic violence shelter in the Springfield area. They provide meals, clothing and essential items for victims of domestic violence. Harmony House has provided shelter for victims since they opened in 1976. Since then, they have provided help for over 14,000 people.

Ester Munch, director of development and marketing for the Harmony House, says their new location will provide shelter for even more.

“We are able to shelter 110 people in our current shelter,” Munch said. “In the new building we will shelter 160. This will make us the largest domestic violence shelter in Missouri.”

Because of the new space the Harmony House will soon be able help provide and protect many more victims.

“We turn away hundreds of people each year whose lives are in danger because we are out of space,” Munch said. “Thousands come looking and calling for shelter, hopefully when they do, we have an available bed but that’s not always the case.”

Although, some have to be turned away due to the lack of space last year, Munch says Harmony House managed to serve 609 people in their shelter and 138 in their outreach program. Their new facility will provide larger areas for the women and children staying there, including a tornado shelter for safety.

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Glendale High School Quill Springfield, Missouri
Domestic Violence