In 1995, some of you reading this may not have yet been born. A gallon of gas cost just over $1; a stamp cost only $.32. EBay and the DVD were brand new, and your cell phone (if you were lucky enough to have one) likely came in a large bag and charged you a per minute fee that rivaled your rent costs on a monthly basis.
In 1995, Megan’s Law was passed, OJ Simpson was acquitted of murdering Nicole Brown Simpson, and the first STOP Grants were offered under the newly enacted Violence Against Women Act. In this same year, FBI’s Crime Stats showed that among all female murder victims, 26% were known to have been killed by male intimate partners. One in four women and 7% of men reported being physically assaulted or raped by a current or former intimate partner.
Twenty-one years ago, I started my career in Victims’ Services at a domestic violence and rape crisis program in central PA. From counselor to director, I became immersed in the tragedies and joys involved with helping victims transition to survivors. I helped manage programs at the state level for several years at the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency and during the last 10 years I have gained invaluable knowledge of the community resources available here in the LV. I now am thrilled to “return home” once again, this time returning to victims’ services, where I hope my experiences can benefit the people who need Turning Point.
As happy as I am to be joining the staff and volunteers of Turning Point, I am troubled. I am troubled that the national stats in 2015 are the same as in 1995: a generation later, 1 in 4 women, and 7% of men in opposite-sex relationships will still experience severe physical violence during their lives by an intimate partner. We know that persons in same-sex relationships may experience even higher rates of violence in their lives, with 40% of men identifying as gay or bisexual experiencing intimate partner violence.
Do these numbers trouble you as they trouble me? Are we resigned to this fate as inevitable for our daughters and sons? We have made great strides over the past 20 years in so many areas, but we need to call out this epidemic of violence. Domestic violence is a crime committed by a person against others; it’s not a “personal matter” or a “family business.” Like all crimes, partner violence has real costs to us all; we need to care. Like any crime of power and control, it can only exist in an environment of secrecy or tolerance.
You are still reading this because you care. We need you to help be part of the solution. What can you do? Spread the word about Turning Point; volunteer your time, expertise and or resources; commit to naming acts of power and control so they can no longer plague our society.
I look forward to working with you to create a safe, peaceful and just future for our friends, families, and neighbors!
Lori Sywensky, Executive Director