Don't turn deaf ear to call for help

Friday, December 8, 2006
South Putnam High School's Drama Club will present "Humbug High: A Contemporary Christmas Carol" at 2 p.m. Sunday and 7:30 p.m. Monday. Tickets to the dessert theatre are $8 for adults and $5 for students. Visiting a scene from a past holiday season are (from left) angel Shannon Egold, Heath Pruitt as Eddie, Phoebe Pritchett as Debbie, Brice Johnson as Nathan and Alex Eakle as young Eddie Scrooge.

A couple hears their neighbors arguing in the night. Suddenly there's a scream, followed by silence. Should the neighbors call the police or should they mind their own business?

Although many people might feel that being put on the spot in a situation like this will never happen to them, cases of domestic violence occur every day.

According to statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, and in 2001, 20 percent of violent crimes against women were intimate partner violence, meaning it involved a spouse or significant other.

In Putnam County, there have been more than 2,000 reported abuse victims in the last five years.

But how can family members and friends help someone they know who is involved in an unhealthy, violent relationship?

Elizabeth Butts, program director for the Putnam County Family Support Services, told the BannerGraphic Tuesday that people should "not be afraid to get involved."

"It's everybody's business to call 911 if they hear or see abuse," Butts said.

According to Butts, people should take notice of their surroundings during verbal arguments because they can quickly move to physical arguments.

Butts offers a list of "do's" and "don'ts" for people helping someone involved in a domestic violence case.

When helping a family member or friend, people should:

-- Listen;

-- Be nonjudgmental;

-- Respect their limits;

-- Ask if they need help;

-- Be honest;

-- Be a part of their support system;

-- Give them referrals when they can get help; and

-- If you hear or see domestic violence occurring, "call 911."

Butts said that victims need to be able to trust the person they are talking to, therefore the person offering help should not be judgmental of the victim.

While providing all of this help, people need to remember they should not:

-- Tell them what they should be feeling;

-- Make decisions for them;

-- Think that you can protect them;

-- Pressure them to deal with issues that they are not ready to confront; or

-- Get frustrated because things are not moving as fast as you would like.

The main reason Butts pointed out why people should remember the "don'ts" list is because the abuse victim knows what his or her abuser is capable of. He or she also knows when it is too dangerous to leave the abuser or call the police.

After a frantic 911 phone call case in November, Butts said, Family Support Services had provided the Heritage Lake neighborhood watch with information and pamphlets on domestic violence to hand out to possible abuse victims.

By handing out this information, communities can begin to hold abusers accountable to create safer communities.

"It's important that communities band together against domestic violence," Butts said.

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