Editorial: Stop the violence, now


October is a month set aside to raise awareness for many noteworthy causes. While we'd like to elaborate of all of them, we believe there is one in particular that warrants an in-depth mention: Domestic violence.

Next Wednesday, churches in Bristol and Newport counties will unite together in an event called Ring the Bells to Stop Domestic Violence. At 9 a.m. on Oct. 30, area churches will ring their bells six times in memory of the six lives that were lost in Rhode Island in 2012. The event is also an invitation to community members to share in a moment of silence in remembrance of the victims of domestic violence.

So far in 2013, there have been 10 domestic violence-related deaths, and we've got two months left in the year.

In Bristol, there were 161 individuals who sought some sort of domestic violence service in 2012. While we'd like to compare that to 2011, the result would be inconclusive in determining any trends in domestic violence. But according to the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the general reporting numbers have stayed more or less constant over the past 10 years.

That's pretty jarring. Especially since Bristol had the highest number of domestic violence forms received in 2011 in the East Bay, at 324. That ranks Bristol as ninth in the state, out of 38 police departments reporting.

In school, we teach our children that hitting is not OK, and hopefully that philosophy is adopted at home. But there is more to domestic violence than being physically violent. There's also economic, emotional, and verbal abuse.

Studies have shown that children of all ages, even infants, can be harmed by seeing or hearing abuse. They will develop symptoms, which will negatively effect their behavior and learning capabilities as a result of their exposure to domestic violence.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, you are called to action. Don't be a bystander. Engage yourself. Intervene.

We're not asking you to put yourself in danger. Rather, you can disrupt the social norms that enable domestic and sexual violence. There's no need to glorify violence and aggression, or promote male dominance or participate in events that objectify women.

For more information about domestic violence and resources, go to www.ricadv.org.

Everyone has a right to feel safe.


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.