It’s happening all the time: nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States (https://ncadv.org/statistics). That’s more than 10 million women and men a year. Domestic violence is not just a criminal issue; it is also a public health issue. Consider these health implications:
-Only about a third of those injured by a partner receive medical care
-Survivors are more at risk for mental health disorders, chronic diseases and infections
-Nearly 20.9% of female high school students and nearly 13.4% of male high school students report being physically or sexually abused by a dating partner (https://ncadv.org/statistics).
-57% of teens know someone who has been physically, sexually, or verbally abusive in a dating relationship (https://ncadv.org/statistics).
When we let crisis intrude homes within our community we are not only letting things like domestic violence, sexual violence, homelessness, substance abuse, poverty, etc. happen to people, but by doing nothing, we are also unintentionally creating more victims of this crisis cycle.
Children who grow up in violent homes are more vulnerable to social and physical problems. By learning that violence is a normal way of life, it increases the chances that they will become the next generation of victims and abusers.
Meet Lori, a United Way volunteer, donor, and success story. Lori Hedden currently serves on our Community Solutions Basic Needs Panel. Lori’s story begins many years ago when she was trying to escape an abusive relationship. Through a United Way connection, Lori was able to find safety until she could find a more permanent and safe place with her children. Salvation Army provided for her children during Christmas and helped ease her family’s transition. She now works at Shaw Industries, and United Way continues to be a huge part of her life. Lori’s father recently had a stroke and now receives Meals on Wheels. The family was also able to receive help for a wheelchair ramp so he could access his home safely. Lori knows the importance of United Way because of her personal story, and it is because of that story that she chooses to volunteer and give to United Way.
So what is the solution to helping those in adverse situations? Creating greater awareness, prevention, and taking action is a great place to start.
We need to join the conversation. Talk about these issues and address that there are so many people in our community facing crisis every day. In fact, in 2018, 34,696 individuals received food, clothing, furniture, prescription medication and/or direct financial (rent or utility) assistance; 937 domestic violence calls were answered; 178 individuals received disaster assistance. All of this was possible because United Way of Northwest Georgia supports crisis assistance in our community.
United Way of Northwest Georgia supports crisis prevention programs provided by community partners in Whitfield and Murray Counties. Organizations such as Family Frameworks, Friendship House, and Whitfield Dalton Daycare work to prevent children from being left behind in their education and development. The GreenHouse and Family Support Council have programs to prevent sexual abuse among future generations. Preventing distraught situations can help stop the cycle and give individuals and families a greater chance at success. However, not all crisis situations are preventable, which is why we need to take action.
Some adversity just cannot be prevented. Situations like when a parent is diagnosed with dementia, shut-ins need a home-delivered meal, homelessness, or a natural disaster can happen suddenly and without warning. That is why United Way has Community Partners in place to aid the victims of unforeseen crises. Organizations such as Meals on Wheels ensure that low-income, homebound elderly have nutritious meals and a caring person to check in on them. RossWoods provides a safe place for adults with disabilities, like dementia, so that their caretakers can go to work. American Red Cross helps those who have been affected by fires and other natural disasters. Salvation Army addresses basic needs such as food, clothing, and transitional housing among many other things. The NWGA Family Crisis Center provides a safe, confidential place and supports those affected by family violence.
We need your volunteer and financial support to ensure that United Way and our community partners can continue to increase their impact on crisis situations within our community. Lori’s story shows us that happy endings are possible.
Our campaign goal of $4.125 million is at the halfway mark, and you have the opportunity to help people, just like Lori, provide a means to prevent and end the crisis cycle by giving to www.ourunitedway.org/give .
Amanda Burt is the President of United Way of Northwest Georgia. The mission of United Way is Improving Lives, Inspiring Donors, Uniting Community