Domestic abuse rises, central Wisconsin advocates speak out

Domestic Violence Awareness 9/28/2021
Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 9:35 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - According to a recent report from ‘End Abuse Wisconsin,’ 68 people died in 2020 from domestic violence-related homicides. That’s fifteen more people than in 2019.

The report stated that one person in Wisconsin died every five days from domestic abuse last year. Advocates said many times victims are questioned more than the abuser, which they said shouldn’t be the case.

“Victims can’t control the abuse, they aren’t in control of the violence,” Executive Director for the Women’s Community, Jane Graham Jennings said. “Really concerning and frightening physical violence that has been occurring. That has really escalated since the pandemic began.”

The Executive Director for the Women’s Community said teaching respect at a young age is one way to help prevent domestic abuse. “Teaching people that you’re not entitled to hurt anyone, teaching them that love doesn’t hurt,” Jennings explained.

She said focusing on only victims or victim-blaming isn’t the way to go. “We have to flip that paradigm and the more we focus on the behavior of a victim and try to figure out why it’s happening to them, the less accountability we out on the person who is manipulating and controlling.”

The 2020 report released last week also included a section on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW). The founder and director of the Waking Women Healing Institute and a Menominee tribal member who serves on Wisconsin’s MMIW Task Force said domestic violence is an intersecting issue to MMIW.

“We need to address the institutional violence and the attacks on tribal sovereignty. There’s a lot of acts by the United States Congress that have limited tribe’s ability to prosecute non-native offenders against indigenous women,” Kristin Welch said.

Welch said protecting and uplifting tribal sovereignty runs hand-in-hand with a preventative tract. “So not just addressing the institutional racism but making sure that indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit have preventative services that look like us, that reflect us, that are fully funded.”

Both advocates said domestic violence is a community issue.

“If you see something say something. We’re kind of a community of it’s very much about the individual, we don’t want to get involved in somebody else’s business, and we kind of look at it like that it’s somebody else’s problem,” Welch said.

“You can help by listening, by reaching out, and by getting educated,” Jennings said.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, contact the national domestic violence hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

For a list of domestic violence-related services based on region and community, click here.

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