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Pastor Cliff Chappell of St Johns All Nations Cogic
Published: 24 October 2011
A man lights his candle at a vigil for victims of domestic violence in Dawson Park, N. Portland  Oct. 20

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. As I ponder what that means to me and to my sphere of influence, the question comes to my mind, "How informed am I about Domestic Violence."

Oh, I hear about it in the news when there has been a murder or murder suicide. I think, "How terrible" that it happened. But it seems that it's always the other person, therefore not my business. The problem is that many people right in my community and within my sphere of influence are suffering some form of domestic violence in silence, and I don't even recognize it.

Furthermore, how many people have attempted to tell me that they are seeking my help, but I either ignored it, discounted it or did not even recognize their plea for help because I am unaware of what domestic violence is and therefore completely missed the signs?

I find that the more I learn about this terrible problem that is quietly becoming an epidemic in our society, the more I need to be informed. By becoming intentional about making it my business to understand the signs, I will recognize when someone is needing or pleading for help.

Domestic violence is one of those subjects that we just don't talk about with those in our close circles. By our silence we all enable this problem to propagate itself. If we are not part of the solution, we, by not making it our business to become informed and aware, become enablers to the problem.

I wonder how many acts of violence that hit the news could have been prevented if someone would have made it their business to speak up to that someone close to them.

I wonder how many gang problems would be eliminated if someone would have spoken up and made some young person's plea for help their business.

I wonder how many men and women in our over-crowded prisons would not even be there if somebody would have made domestic violence their business. I have not seen a statistic, but I would think that about half of the people who are incarcerated, are in prison because of either direct or indirect effects of domestic violence.

Domestic violence comes in many difference forms. It can include physical abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, social abuse, emotional abuse, and financial abuse, usually within an intimate and or family-type relationship. The abuse can happen at any age, and is usually an attempt by the abuser to exert power and control over an intimate partner or family member. The abuse can be either direct or indirect abuse of an individual. However it occurs it means someone is traumatized, and at some point that person may act out and duplicate abuse to themselves or others.

I believe if we all will make domestic violence our business by becoming informed of the signs, and use our influence, we can once and for all end this dreadful problem in our society.

Read about the Vigil Oct. 21 where families and survivors gathered to honor victims.

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