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Column: The 'other' issue to be aware of in October

What issue will affect one in four women in America; covers the spectrum of age, race, religion, culture, income and education; and has October as its awareness month? If your answer to this question is breast cancer, you are wrong. The answer is domestic violence.

If you think domestic violence is not “your issue” or that people in your life are not affected by it, think again. Domestic violence happens in so many relationships and families that it is very likely someone you know has or is currently experiencing abuse — even if they do not talk about it.

According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, or NNEDV, in the United States about 2.3 million people each year are abused by a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend. Of those victimized by an intimate partner, 85 percent are women and 15 percent are men.

So, what is domestic violence? Many use the term “domestic abuse” rather than “domestic violence” because violence brings to mind images of hitting, punching or some other form physical abuse. However, there are many other methods that abusers use.

Domestic abuse is a pattern of behaviors used to control an intimate partner and can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological in nature. So, controlling your partner’s finances, continually insulting your partner or isolating your partner from family and friends are examples of domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse also has a huge impact on children as millions of children each year witness some form of abuse. End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin reports that children who are exposed to domestic abuse are at a “higher risk for alcohol and drug abuse, sexual acting out, running way and suicide.” Boys who grow up with domestic abuse are more likely to abuse their intimate partners; girls are less likely to seek help if they become victims in their adult relationships.

This October, join the Family Center to raise awareness for that “other” issue affecting millions of women. Support victims of domestic abuse and do not blame them for it — just as you would not blame a woman for having breast cancer. Help the Family Center and advocates across the state to end the stigma of domestic abuse and encourage victims to speak out.

One way to show your support during Domestic Violence Awareness Month is to wear purple-colored clothing. Another way is to wear a purple awareness ribbon — stop at the Family Center if you are in need of a ribbon. You also can change your Facebook profile picture to one that promotes awareness or post information about domestic abuse; invite your friends to do this as well. Most importantly, talk about domestic abuse. Share this article with your neighbors, co-workers, or friends. Silence hides violence — domestic abuse will not stop if we do not discuss it.

If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, please do not look the other way — call the Family Center at 715-421-1511or email

Visit for more information.

Gretchen Konopacky

Wisconsin Rapids Tribune