As a former prosecutor, and now as attorney general, I have seen how abuse and the fear of abuse can take a physical, emotional and psychological toll on families, and this October, as a state, we must recognize how this violence affects all of us.
Domestic violence affects people of both genders. It is estimated that one in three women, and one in four men will experience violence from their partners in their lifetime.
Domestic violence affects victims of all ages. In 2016, the oldest victim of a domestic violence homicide was 72 years old. National estimates show that one million Americans ages 60 and older are abused each year, but only one in 14 cases are reported.
Domestic violence knows no boundaries and affects more than just those in the relationship. Statistics show responding to a domestic dispute can be the most deadly call to service for law enforcement, and domestic violence can often spill out of the home and affect the surrounding community. Unfortunately, the shooting in the Wausau area this spring gives us an all too perfect example of what this looks like, as a domestic dispute left four dead − a wife’s two coworkers and lawyer, and a law enforcement officer.
Tragically, a domestic violence incident ending in death is not uncommon. In 2016, End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin reports that 73 individuals died as a result of domestic violence in Wisconsin.
While this information can seem dire, support is available to those who seek it. If you are unsure if you are a victim of abuse or if you are being abused, help is available. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE to talk to a counselor who can help connect you to support locally. And if you suspect someone you know is being abused, the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health has resources available to help you take the next steps.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice is also taking action to support survivors, help curb further violence,and work to protect the first responders who often are called to resolve domestic incidents. DOJ does this through the state’s address confidentiality program, grant funding for victim services in all 72 Wisconsin counties, and training for law enforcement.
DOJ funds five regional Violence Against Women resource prosecutors, providing training and technical assistance to prosecutors around the state who handle domestic violence and sexual assault cases. DOJ also trains law enforcement on the best practices for responding to and investigating domestic violence, emphasizing officer safety, trauma-informed interview techniques, domestic violence dynamics, developing a coordinated community response, witness intimidation and lethality assessments. DOJ also routinely provides information and training to advocates and victim/witness services on victim’s rights, crime victim compensation and the sexual assault forensic exam fund.
Domestic violence affects all of us, and every day at DOJ, we are working hard to make Wisconsin safer and healthier.