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Ending Violence, Saving Lives

Posted by Ryan Morgan on February 11, 2014 at 9:53 AM
Mary Miller_croppedBy: Mary Miller Murder by one's significant other kills 3 women and 1 man every day. One in four Americans will be a victim of domestic violence in his/her lifetime. Between 2000 and 2006, 3,200 American soldiers were killed overseas while 10,600 Americans died from murder by their partners. One-half of those murdered had previously asked for help from police or the criminal justice system.  Much of this violence and some of these murders were witnessed by children. Unfortunately, South Carolina ranks first in the nation for the rate of women murdered by men.  According to the Violence Policy Center’s annual report, we’ve ranked in the “top 10 states every year for the past 10 years”.  Another troubling health statistic we aren’t proud of but have to own to correct. Many times, abusers don’t recognize their own violent tendencies.  They save their anger for the partner, thus may appear pleasant and charming to outsiders.  Victims however lose sleep, and become afraid, anxious and negative. Many times, victims abuse substances which in turn can make them an unreliable witness for their own defense. Often, victims have a history of abuse in their own childhood and feel helpless with no-where to go.  Intimate partner violence is often a cycle but there are interventions available to reduce the occurrence of this issue. Prevention of partner murder has been successful in Amesbury, MA, through the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center. They have trained more than 5000 workers from 30 states. The key to the prevention of partner murder is to predict when it might happen. The model utilizes a High Risk Team that looks for changes which indicate trouble.  Some of these changes include: when the victim attempts to leave, gets a restraining order, gets a job, or becomes pregnant. The key to the success of the High Risk Team for the prevention of partner murder is the sharing of information while maintaining confidentiality and community collaboration.  From the police, to the judge, to community members, everyone has a role in the prevention of domestic violence.  An essential element to this model is that the High Risk Team can locate transitional housing, keeping it secret, erase profiles on social media, change daily routines and routes. As a community of South Carolinians, we have to do better to prevent homicides by domestic abuse.  We can advocate for improved policies that prevent domestic violence from occurring and policies that increase penalties for abusers.  We can also model our prevention strategies after the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center in Amesbury, MA.  We must work together as a community to improve the lives of those who have experienced and are currently experiencing unhealthy relationships. Mary Miller received her MD from Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, NY, and completed her Internal Medicine Residency at Bowman Grey School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC. She retired after 25 years of Internal Medicine practice. She currently lives in Aiken, SC.

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