Domestic violence vigil to 'Mourn, Celebrate, Connect'
Area residents are invited to a Domestic Violence Vigil Thursday at West Wetlands Park. The vigil, hosted by the Yuma County Attorney's Office in conjunction with the Yuma County Victim's Rights Committee, begins at 5:30 p.m.
The theme of the vigil is “Mourn, Celebrate, Connect.” The vigil is meant to honor those who have died because of domestic violence, celebrate those who have survived, and connect with those who work to end violence.
The vigil is being held in homage of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, observed by advocates, victim service providers, law enforcement, the judiciary, prosecutors and survivors nationwide each October to raise public awareness about the issue.
Jon R. Smith, Yuma County Attorney, will serve as master of ceremonies at the vigil. Deputy County Attorney James Coil will speak to provide a prosecutor's perspective about the issues surrounding victims of domestic violence.
Oscar Chavez Jr. will perform live music at the event and Yuma County Supervisor Lenore Stuart will read a proclamation proclaiming the month of October as Yuma County Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The event will conclude with a balloon launch.
Information displays and packets will be provided by various victim support groups during and after the vigil.
“Clearly, domestic violence affects everyone, and everyone must be part of the solution,” said Linda King, victim advocate for the Yuma County Attorney's Office, Victim Services Division.
“As such, all are encouraged to attend this event and join as we unite to mourn those who have lost their life to domestic violence, celebrate those who have survived, and connect with those who work to end the violence once and for all.”
Domestic violence is a crime with many victims, Smith said.
“Domestic violence is not discriminating. It can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender and it affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.”
That includes children. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, approximately 15.5 million children witness domestic violence each year.
Frequent exposure to violence in the home not only predisposes children to numerous social and physical problems, but also teaches them violence is a normal way of life, and increases their risk of becoming the next generation of victims and abusers, Smith said.
“One study estimated that boys who are exposed to domestic violence may be four times more likely to perpetrate such violence when they become adults.”
And children who witness such abuse are more likely to be abused themselves, according to a second study cited by Smith.
“More than a third of the youth who witnessed such violence also experienced some form of maltreatment — this is significant when you compare it to the fact that less than 9 percent of nonwitness children experienced similar maltreatment.”
Domestic violence also spreads beyond the family and into the community, Smith added. “The cost associated with domestic violence reaches far beyond the crime scene.”
A study by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control indicated that the cost of domestic violence exceeds $5.8 billion a year, including $4.1 billion in direct health care related expenses.
“The Domestic Violence Awareness Project noted the costs of intimate partner rape, physical assault and stalking exceeded $8.3 billion each year,” Smith said.
Additionally, between 25 to 50 percent of the victims of domestic violence in the United States have reported losing their employment in connection to domestic violence.
Domestic violence costs employers in the U.S. as well, with one study indicating a loss of nearly $13 billion a year.
Chris McDaniel can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6849.