By Rachelle Kucera Mehra, executive director of the Domestic Violence Crisis Center
Every October, events and activities around the country shine a spotlight on domestic violence in recognition of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. However, we must never lose sight of the fact that domestic violence has no season. It occurs in all its ugly brutality 24/7, 365 days a year. Twenty-four victims every minute across the U.S. Twelve million every year.
Domestic violence will occur even as families gather to give thanks and celebrate a season of generosity and love during the upcoming holidays. It will occur over the silent, cold nights of winter, in the hopeful warmth of spring and on the hottest summer day. It will affect someone in your life—a relative, neighbor, colleague at work or parent of your child’s best friend.
It will happen across all communities, regardless of size or demographics. Per capita, the number of clients who come to the Domestic Violence Crisis Center (DVCC) from Wilton, New Canaan, Darien, Weston and Westport is proportionate to the number of clients who come to us from Stamford and Norwalk. Over the past three years, DVCC has consistently provided services for approximately one percent of the population from each of our seven communities. While the actual numbers differ, per capita they correspond. What better proof that domestic violence does not discriminate and has no boundaries; that it can happen to anyone regardless of race, faith, culture, socio-economic level, educational attainment, gender, sexual preference or age.
Evidence over the past half-century has refuted the misperception that domestic violence only happens to certain kinds of people. It has helped to lift the veil of secrecy and shame behind which so many victims were forced to cower. Even today, however, it takes great courage to leave an abusive relationship, as well as strength and stamina to work through the emotional pulls, legal entanglements and financial constraints that the process often entails.
We are in awe of the courage, fortitude and resilience displayed by our clients every day as they strive for freedom and work to build a stable, sustainable life for themselves and their children. DVCC’s professional staff supports them every step along the way, within the legal system, with financial concerns or with housing needs. Thanks to our partnerships with law enforcement, the courts, social services and healthcare, we are able to provide critical services, as well as compassionate, confidential support to the more than 3,000 individuals from all over Fairfield County who seek our assistance each year.
October is an important time to speak out against domestic violence, to raise awareness in our communities and to encourage anyone who may be in an abusive relationship to seek help. So are the other 11 months of the year, including, tragically, the festive season that is upon us.
Rachelle Kucera Mehra is the executive director of the Domestic Violence Crisis Center (DVCC), serving the communities of Stamford, Norwalk, Westport, New Canaan, Darien, Wilton and Weston.