By Police Chief Berg
October is designated as “Domestic Violence Awareness Month.” As such, I would like to take this opportunity to let people know that there is help out there.
The Sterling Heights Police Department responds to hundreds of “Domestic” incidents each year. In 2015, we responded to more than 1,350 incidents, ranging from verbal arguments to assaultive situations.
I use the above numbers to show that obviously these are not isolated incidents and that there are many people, women and men, who are involved in domestic situations in which they feel alone and without alternatives.
When the police are called to the scene of a domestic incident, we must determine if there has been an assault or a reported assault. If there is probable cause to believe that an assault has taken place, the law states that the responsible party shall be taken into custody/arrested.
The Police Department’s goals when called to the scene of a domestic disturbance is to protect victims and their children, hold assailants accountable, reduce domestic assaults, and reduce the need for further police responses to the home.
If an assault takes place and an arrest is made, the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office provides victim assistance throughout the process.
There are resources in the area that can assist with victims involved in a bad domestic situation. One of them is Turning Point. Turning Point is an emergency shelter that offers many different resources for both women, teens and children like counseling, legal advocacy, developing a safety plan and more.
If you, or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, please know there are resources to assist you and your loved ones in getting out of the situation.
Here is a brief history of how Domestic Violence Awareness Month came to be held in October:
Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) evolved from the "Day of Unity" held in October 1981 and was conceived by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The intent was to connect advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children. The Day of Unity soon became an entire week devoted to a range of activities conducted at the local, state, and national level. The activities conducted were as varied and diverse as the program sponsors but had common themes:
- Mourning those who have died because of domestic violence
- Celebrating those who have survived
- Connecting those who work to end violence
These three themes remain a key focus of DVAM events today. In October 1987, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed. That same year marks the initiation of the first national domestic violence toll-free hotline. In 1989, the U.S. Congress passed Public Law 101-112 designating October of that year as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Such legislation has passed every year since with NCADV providing key leadership in this effort. Each year, the Day of Unity is celebrated the first Monday of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
—Adapted from the 1996 Domestic Violence Awareness Month Resource Manual of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Proclamation of the President of the United States -
National Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2015
Domestic violence impacts women, men, and children of every age, background, and belief. Nearly 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men in the United States have suffered severe physical violence by an intimate partner. Victims are deprived of their autonomy, liberty, and security, and face tremendous threats to their health and safety. During National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we reaffirm our dedication to forging an America where no one suffers the hurt and hardship that domestic violence causes -- and we recommit to doing everything in our power to uphold the basic human right to be free from violence and abuse.
Prior to the passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), many did not view domestic violence as a serious offense, and victims often had nowhere to turn for support. VAWA significantly transformed our Nation -- it enhanced the criminal justice response to violence against women and expanded survivors' access to immediate assistance and long-term resources to rebuild their lives. The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act is another important piece of legislation that improved our public health response to domestic violence and increased the availability of critical services for victims.
Read the full proclamation by President Barack Obama, released on September 30, 2015.