Although the spotlight on domestic violence has never been brighter, many dark alleys remain.
We were all reminded of that fact last week when Jannine Parisi, 47, and her husband Paul, 46, were found dead inside their Chantilly home. Fairfax police have yet to identify the aggressor or comment on a motive for the killings, but have deemed the incident domestic in nature.
Unfortunately, those weren’t the first or last domestic violence-fueled deaths in the country last week. According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, more than three women in the U.S. are killed every day by a current or former intimate partner.
Other troubling numbers:
• Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women, even more than car accidents, muggings or rapes.
• Studies suggest that more than 15 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.
• A woman in the United States is beaten or assaulted every nine seconds.
• Domestic violence costs the U.S. roughly $5.8 billion a year, mostly in medical bills.
Fortunately, the news isn’t all bad. According to a 2012 Department of Justice report, incidents of “intimate partner violence” — incidents between spouses, ex-spouses or partners — declined almost 64 percent between 1994 and 2010. Virginia’s 2012 Domestic and Sexual Violence Report found that there was a 21.2 percent decrease in family and intimate partner homicides from 2010 to 2011.
Some of the progress can be attributed to intervention, more shelters and better police techniques. Fairfax County has certainly scored well on each of those fronts, committing dollars and manpower to police training and Artemis House, the county’s only emergency shelter for families and individuals trying to flee domestic or sexual violence.
Perhaps the variable that continues to lag is public awareness. While certainly more visible than a decade ago, domestic violence remains an issue that often gets overlooked by family, friends and — all too often — the victims themselves.
The most effective safeguard against a domestic murder are those who are around the situation. Somehow, we need to send a stronger message that lets abusers know that verbally or physically abusing a spouse or child is both illegal and socially unacceptable.
That starts with keeping our eyes and ears open. If you are in an abusive relationship, get help. There are steps to take if someone is being abused. First, call the police. Next, contact an attorney and the courts to have a restraining order placed on the abuser. One can also seek out a domestic victims advocacy group to assist with results of violence.
There is no excuse for domestic violence. It’s never OK.