More than 25 years after Domestic Violence Awareness month was launched nationwide in October 1987 to curb violence in the home, domestic violence continues to be the leading cause of injury to women – more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined.
Every nine seconds in the U.S., a woman is assaulted or beaten, according to Domestic Violence Statistics.org.
The Department of Justice reported that in 95 percent of domestic assaults, men are the perpetrator of violence.
In Michigan, 68,500 women were victims of domestic violence in 2011. Of those female victims reported, 5,141 were from Macomb County.
More often than not, victims of domestic violence don’t seek help for many reasons, but in Macomb County, more than half of the domestic violence victims turned to Turning Point, Macomb County’s only agency dedicated to providing assistance for domestic and sexual assault victims.
Turning Point helped 3,574 individuals gain control of their lives, answered 12,000 calls on its 24-hour crisis hotline and provided shelter to 477 women and children.
Sue Coats, Turning Point CEO, told Patch the shelter in Mount Clemens, which is in an undisclosed location, is at capacity with 41 people living and receiving counseling.
“We don’t turn anyone away,” she said, adding that women have slept on the shelter’s couches to stay safe.
Turning Point broke ground in 2012 on a new $3 million emergency shelter in Macomb to accommodate the growing needs of the community.
Does the Economy Affect Domestic Violence Rates?
At the height of the American economic recession in 2008, there were 7,681 domestic violence cases reported in Macomb County. Last year, the number was slightly lower with 7,255.
Coats said the economy does have a direct impact on how women combat domestic violence, but it does not create abusive relationships.
“If an abuser wasn’t using or misusing power and control in a relationship, the economy and the stress does not make you an abuser,” she said. “You would have been doing it anyway, but the stressors heighten the tendencies that you already have.”
As for the female domestic violence victims, they also become a victim of the economy.
“Domestic violence is an economic issue because if there isn’t a strong economy to support somebody’s economic freedom, it’s hard to leave,” said Coats.
Also, the woman’s informal support network may shrink. For example, grandmothers who may have provided childcare now retire later.
Turning Point’s goal is to help women remove the barriers in their lives that may prevent them from leaving abusive situations, such as finding affordable housing and childcare and landing good-paying jobs.
“Too often the choice for women is staying in a relationship that isn’t good for them or poverty. Neither one is a good choice,” said Coats.
According to the Macomb County Prosecutor's Office, domestic violence is not a class problem. Many statistics have been gathered from lower-class families, but only because lower-class women are more likely to request assistance from agencies, so their problems are more visible. Many upper-class victims fear coming forward because of social embarrassment and concern it may harm their husband's careers.
Tell Tale Signs of Domestic Abuse
Domestic abuse is also known as spousal abuse and occurs when one person in an intimate relationship or marriage and tries to dominate and control the other person. Domestic abuse that includes physical violence is called domestic violence.
Coats has seen domestic abuse come in all forms, from physical, with murder being the most extreme case, to emotional abuse.
On Saturday, Turning Point held it’s annual Tara Grant Memorial Run, in honor of the Washington Township woman who was brutally murdered by her husband, Stephen Grant, in 2006.
Although emotional abuse is harder to see, Coats says women should trust their intuition, because it’s a serious form of domestic abuse and it’s very prevalent.
“Trust your gut. If you feel like you are not being treated right. If you have to make changes to stop someone from getting angry, then you need to check yourself and get information,” said Coats.
Emotional abuse often starts out with isolation.
“If you find yourself getting more and more isolated from the people who love you or your friends--Those are warning signs. You should be able to have a full life and feel good about yourself and not walking on pins and needles," Coats said.
If you, or someone you know may be in an abusive relationship, call the Turning Point crisis hotline at 586-463-6990.