Opinion: Domestic violence is an issue facing our community | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Opinion: Domestic violence is an issue facing our community

Scarlet Caldwell

As a domestic violence agency in this community, Live Violence Free, formerly the South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center, would like to speak to a tragic incident that happened in our community last week. The homicide of 43-year-old Lyra Fisher-Bomediano was, in actuality, an extreme case of domestic violence. This tragic incident must serve as a reminder to our community that domestic violence is a serious issue that demands awareness, education and intervention, and this striking example must not be overlooked.

Although this tragedy leaves our community with one less quality citizen and a son without his mother, it also offers a very important lesson that we must not neglect. Domestic violence is a serious issue that affects many people in our community. It involves a complex cycle that flows from a sweet honeymoon-like stage to an explosive, dangerous stage in which many people are hurt. As tension builds, initial signs of domestic violence, such as yelling, insults, intimidation and threats begin to surface. When tension has reached its breaking point, the explosion stage will ensue, often involving violent outbursts of physical and/or emotional abuse and even sexual violence. After an explosion has occurred, the cycle flows in to the guilt/justification phase where the perpetrator of the violence will often apologize for his/her actions, attempt to justify them, and place blame on the victim and other outside circumstances. This phase, followed by the false honeymoon stage, is where the perpetrator attempts to start over, does nice things for the victim and promises it will never happen again. For the victim, these two stages are the most difficult. As the perpetrator expresses guilt over his/her actions and makes promises for the future, the victim sees a glimpse of the person he/she fell in love with and becomes very confused. The victim often loses the ability to be objective about the reality of their situation and any thoughts about leaving or ending the relationship are lost in this hope that things will get better. This cycle is repeated over and over again until the victim finds the courage to leave, the victim and perpetrator seek help, or until the violence goes too far.

Violence within an intimate relationship causes serious trauma to the victim, as the violence is coming from someone who the person loves and believes love them, and thus it can be extremely difficult to pull oneself out of. Domestic violence is about power and control and arises when one partner uses his or her power to exercise dominance over the other. The danger is exponentially increased by factors such as stalking and strangulation, whose danger is extremely underestimated. Of all women murdered by their partners, three out of four had previously been stalked by that same partner and up to 68 percent of women in domestic violence relationships have experienced at least one incident of strangulation in their lifetime, despite the serious physical, neurological and psychological health effects that can result (Legal Voice and Ortner-Unity). In addition, children who are exposed to domestic violence suffer even more than those who are direct victims, receiving some of the trauma from the explosions as well as suffering from decreased parental capacity. Children are also much more likely to be abused or to become abusers themselves after being exposed to domestic violence.

The most difficult and dangerous part of being in a domestic violence relationship is that point in which one decides to leave. Not only is extreme courage a prerequisite, but resources, services and support from family and community is essential. Let our community learn from this recent incident and attempt to prevent any deaths due to domestic violence from happening in the future. Please raise awareness and educate about the seriousness of domestic violence and the availability of resources in our community. Live Violence Free is a domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse agency with bilingual Spanish and Tagalog advocates who are here to help. Go to http://www.liveviolencefree.org or call 530-544-2118 for more information.

– Scarlet Caldwell is the outreach educator for Live Violence Free, formerly the South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center.

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