Imagine being slapped, kicked, pulled by your hair, dehumanized, spit at, punched, thrown to the floor, raped, choked, stabbed, or shot at by someone who says they love you.
Imagine being a child seeing this right in front of you – in a matter of seconds. Something you can do nothing about but stand still and hope it ends.
Imagine being a woman or a man or a parent not knowing what to do as you are on the floor. Everything becomes crystal clear. The chair that was knocked over. The quiet outside the house. The sound of the television in the background. The blood. The pain. The look on your child’s face. The front door.
Beyond the heroics of words like ‘You can always leave’ and ‘I would never let that happen to me’ – which are easy to say – there is that moment when the reality of violence in your own home by someone you have chosen to be with has literally hit you and you are left with not knowing where to go, who to call or what to do. Maybe this is not the first time or second time or even third. You feel helpless. And none of it can be taken back.
Some do not have to imagine any of this.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
At the October 4th Mayor & Council meeting, the governing body recognized this month as such. One member, in particular, Councilman-At-Large Joseph DeIorio opened up about his personal experience with something that most would be embarrassed or even ashamed to admit.
“I asked the governing body to consider presenting a proclamation in raising awareness on this particular issue,” he started, “Having to experience or witness domestic violence myself as a young child and a teenager, I can tell you firsthand that while the victim is the spouse, the partner, a woman, a man, the effect on them is so serious and so devastating. But it’s also so serious and devastating to the young individual [who] witnesses this victimization of another individual. It’s cultural. It’s societal. While things have changed incredibly since the time that I was a child when it comes in terms of law enforcement, when it comes in terms of protections for the victim, the shame is still there. The issue is still there.”
In presenting the proclamation to bring about awareness and have the necessary discussions, Councilman Deiorio shared his experience and spoke up as a means of letting others know – the spouse or lover or child or parent – that they are not alone.
He continued, “In presenting this proclamation to those that are in the audience and those that are watching this, what I ask is that if you bear witness to a domestic violence situation, it doesn’t go away. It continues. There’s help available but more importantly for the victim and their family members, there’s help. Talk to a teacher. Talk to a police officer. Talk to a friend. Get help. Because unfortunately in many cases, the abuse continues and there’s tragedy. But in many cases when people speak out and reach out, there comes an end, there comes a resolution. While it may not be the best resolution, it’s a means for people – children, spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends – to get out of a terrible situation that they may be in.”
Reflecting on when he felt alone and voiceless, the middle-aged man of note and respect, spoke up for that little boy all those years ago who, eventually, said to himself and the terrorizer of his mother and family ‘no more’.
He did it not only for himself but so that others could see and say and know they are not alone.
Putting on his glasses to read the proclamation that put into words the cold hard facts of the reality that victims of domestic abuse live with, Councilman-At-Large DeIorio read into the record:
“Whereas according to the National Intimate Partner & Sexual Violence Survey, up to 12 million individuals in the United States report experiencing intimate partner violence including physical violence, rape or stalking and approximately one in five women and one in seven men in the United States have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetimes; and,
Whereas, on average, three women in the United States are killed each day by a current or former intimate partner according to the Bureau of Justice statistics; and,
Whereas domestic violence can affect anyone but women aged 18 to 34 typically experience the highest rates of intimate partner violence; and,
Whereas most female victims of intimate partner violence have been victimized by the same offender previously; and,
Whereas domestic violence is cited as a significant factor in homelessness among families with millions of children who are exposed to domestic violence each year; and,
Whereas victims of domestic violence experience immediate and long-term negative outcomes including detrimental effects on mental and physical health; and,
Whereas crisis hotlines serving domestic violence victims operate around the clock and offer important crisis intervention support services, information, and referrals for victims; and,
Whereas staff and volunteers of domestic violence shelters and programs in the United States in cooperation with 56 state and territorial coalitions against domestic violence serve thousands of adults and children each day and one million adults and children each year; and,
Whereas according to a 2016 survey 72,959 domestic violence victims were served by domestic violence shelters and programs around the United States in a single day; and,
Whereas law enforcement officers in the United States put their lives at risk each day by responding to incidents of domestic violence which can be among the most volatile and deadly calls; and,
Whereas there is a need to continue to support programs and activities aimed at domestic violence intervention and domestic violence prevention in the United States,
Now, therefore, be it proclaimed that Mayor Carl Hokanson of the Brough of Roselle Park in the County of Union in the State of New Jersey hereby proclaims October 2018 as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the Borough of Roselle Park with the objective of continuing raising awareness of domestic violence and its devastating effects.”
Councilman DeIorio thanked the members of the governing body who wore purple in support of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The following is contact information for anyone who is – or know of someone who is – a victim of domestic violence.
Union County 24-Hour Domestic Violence Hotline: (908) 355- HELP (4357)
National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799?7233
Legal Services of New Jersey Domestic Violence Representation Project: (888) LSNJ-LAW (888) 576-5529
Central Jersey Legal Services: (908) 354-4340