CWR Student’s Forum
Domestic Violence Affects Us All
By Ashley Williams
Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States: that is more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.
The types of domestic violence range from domestic abuse to rape, to acid burnings, to dowry deaths and so-called honor killings. Domestic violence does not only affect heterosexual couples, it is also happening often in the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community as well but is not covered in media or news.
A recent death of a highly anticipated basketball player at Florida A&M University has left the campus with unanswered questions. Shannon Washington, a transfer student from Illinois Valley Community College, who was set to grace the basketball court as a lady Rattler was stabbed to death in the back and neck. Starquineshia Palmer, 20, her friend who was spending the weekend with Washington was charged with first degree murder.
According to the Tallahassee Democrat, the two were involved in a domestic relationship and became entangled in an argument which resulted in Washington’s untimely death.
“It just doesn’t make any sense” said Larrisha Henry, a third year biology student at FAMU.
“You never expect to hear that one of your fellow students gets murdered and then by their significant other,” said Henry.
“You always think of domestic violence as something that affects older or less educated people, not college students, but this has definitely opened my eyes to what domestic violence can be.”
FAMU President Dr. James Ammons spoke to the student body at Washington’s vigil and said the 20-year-old’s death could serve as a “teachable moment” for people to be cautious about choosing friends.
“Get connected to the right people,” Ammons told a packed auditorium. “As you live your life, circle yourself with people with good character.”
“Our hearts and prayers go out to Shannon’s family and members of the Lady Rattlers Basketball Team,” said Ammons.
Domestic violence has no racial boundaries or economic or sexual preferences; it can affect each and every one of us. Washington’s death came as a surprise for the FAMU student body but these situations are happening every day. A woman is beaten every 15 seconds and one in four women worldwide will be physically, sexually or otherwise abused during her lifetime.
Jessica Pinto, domestic violence counselor at Refuge House in Tallahassee, says Refuge House services about 6000 participants a year and 10 percent of them are LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, & Questioning).
“Domestic violence tremendously affects LGBTQ communities in Tallahassee and Leon County. The dynamics of the violence between same sex couples and opposite sex couples are the same,” said Pinto. “But often the DV between same sex couples is minimized and brushed off as being a conflict between two friends.”
Pinto continued to say that she believes it is harder for law enforcement to identify the signs as domestic violence when it is a same sex couple.
According to dvrc-or.org on average, more than three women and one man are murdered by their intimate partners in this country every day. The health-related costs of intimate partner violence exceed $5.8 billion each year and of that amount, nearly $4.1 billion are for direct medical and mental health care services. Recent studies also suggest that between 3.3 – 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.
Pinto explains that most of the men victims of abuse are typically men in same sex relationships. There are very few that are victims in heterosexual households but they do help men seeking an escape from domestic violence.
“Roughly 50 percent of all relationships have some element of abuse or violence whether it be a heterosexual or homosexual relationship” said Pinto.
Violence against anyone in no shape or form is right. Whether it is physical, psychological or emotional, domestic and dating violence has detrimental long term affects on the all of the people it touches. Domestic violence is an extreme human rights violation, a public health epidemic and an obstruction to solving worldwide challenges.
The cycle of abuse or the signs doesn’t change according to the sexual preference of a person. Whether you are gay or straight you can get out. If you or anyone you know has been a victim of domestic violence please call local hotline, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.