You may have experienced firsthand physical or verbal abuse, or you might have been the person committing the abuse, or you might have been the child hiding in their room, praying for all the yelling and fighting to stop.
Every year, 6 million people throughout our nation are victims of domestic violence. It may be physical, verbal, emotional, economic or sexual abuse that a husband, wife, partner, parent or child has experienced. They want it to stop but need help to make that happen.
Last week one of our staff members witnessed a domestic fight between a couple on the side of a village street in Lake Placid. Our staffer clearly saw the man yell at and shove the woman, so he quickly pulled over to ask if she needed help. When the man yelled at him to go away, our staff person, trying to intervene immediately, called 911. The dispatcher transferred his call, mistakenly, to the state police instead of village police, and it took the trooper on the phone several minutes and confused questions to understand the situation - all while the aggressive man was menacing both the woman and the caller.
Finally the call was transferred to local police, who came right to the location to investigate. It is believed the couple retreated back into their home when police arrived. How things played out after that, we don't know. It depends on whether they ask for help or ignore that their lives are out of control.
When people decide to stay in abusive relationships while putting themselves and their families at risk, it requires resources to sort out the psychology and change the behavior. Thankfully, help can be found in our area by a simple phone call to the 24-hour Stop Domestic Violence hotline at 888-563-6904. It is Behavioral Health Services North Inc. that handles domestic violence and a host of other services for Essex, Franklin and Clinton counties.
When domestic abuse reaches a crisis point, it is often hard to understand the behavior of those involved - on all sides. This may make it difficult to help, but ignoring it does make it worse and may even be fatal in some instances. That is why it is important to act responsively and report any abuse you suspect, to help those who are too scared to seek it out themselves.
Whoever has been involved in domestic violence has a great deal of guilt, fear, anger, despair and wounded pride. Finding solutions at the point of a crisis might seem very confusing. Just make sure you do intervene if you are a friend, a neighbor or just a passerby and witness such abuse; call 911 or local police. Hopefully the fumbled handling of our staff member's emergency call was a rarity.
If you are a victim of ongoing domestic violence, it is likely the abuse will escalate. You need to call the hotline at 888-563-6904.
Enter these numbers into your cell phone or land line's memory. Consider it a step toward being responsible to save a life - possibly your own.