Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women in America. It is responsible for more injuries to women than car accidents and rape combined.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Wild Iris, the Inyo and Mono domestic violence prevention group, is asking that residents educate themselves on the warning signs of domestic abuse and the aid that is available for those suffering from abuse.
Throughout the month, Wild Iris will be out and about in local communities to help spread the word.
According to its website, Wild Iris will be participating in the Bishop Community Resource Fair at the Barlow Lane Gym in Bishop on Oct. 12, the Tecopa Fireman’s Fling Oct. 26 at the Tecopa Senior Center, the TANF Fall Gathering in Bishop Oct. 29 at the Barlow Lane Gym in Bishop and the Bishop Trunk or Treat event in the City Park Oct. 29.
“This is a way for us to personally reach out to the communities. We will have counselors available and brochures to provide resources for some of our residents,” said Wild Iris Program Director Susie Bains.
According to the Wild Iris website, “violence happens here. It happens in Mammoth, in Bishop, in Lone Pine, Bridgeport, Big Pine. It happens everywhere, and we have the numbers to prove it.”
During the 2012-13 fiscal year, Wild Iris saw 558 different victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or child abuse, in Bishop. Victims of domestic violence who were fleeing unsafe living situations were sheltered at the Wild Iris safe haven for a total 108 nights this year and 96 victims received financial assistance for things like emergency medical treatment, food, clothing or emergency transportation.
In all, Wild Iris crisis counselors spent 6,982 hours working directly with clients. The Wild Iris hotline received 930 calls in the past year.
“Some of these numbers are shocking,” the Wild Iris website states. “But if you remember that nationally one in three women will experience domestic violence, they start to make more sense.”
According to domesticviolencestatistics.org, a woman is assaulted or beaten every nine seconds in the U.S. alone; around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime.
“Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family,” the website states.
Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually and nearly one in five teenage girls who has been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.
According to Helpguide.org, there are many signs of an abusive relationship. “The most telling sign is fear of your partner,” the website states. “If you feel like you have to walk on eggshells around your partner – constantly watching what you say and do in order to avoid a blow-up – chances are your relationship is unhealthy and abusive.”
Other signs that you may be in an abusive relationship include a partner who belittles or tries to control, and feelings of self-loathing, helplessness and desperation.
“I think that because of where we are, people come here expecting that it’s just a beautiful place and this kind of stuff doesn’t happen here,” Bains said. “But domestic violence is a problem. Wild Iris served well over 1,600 people last year. There is an impact to the community. It is a problem that can impact us all as a community.”
Anyone in Inyo or Mono counties who may be experiencing domestic violence is encouraged to contact the Wild Iris crisis hotline at (877) 873-7384.