Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper believes domestic violence is a significant problem.
Through September, the Marshalltown Police Department has responded to more than 400 calls related to domestic abuse or family violence. The department has filed more than 130 reports and made more than 80 arrests related to domestic violence.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, and Tupper said he wants to take the month to shine a spotlight on the issue. Police departments spend many resources responding to domestic violence calls.
As it works to combat domestic violence, he said, the MPD wants to ensure Marshalltown's children understand how to treat all people with dignity and respect.
"We can't arrest our way out of this problem," he said.
Stopping domestic violence is the role the MPD can help play in the Not In Our Town campaign, he said. Such violence often passes on to to children generation after generation. Quashing domestic violence goes a long way toward getting children to respect others.
It doesn't matter if it's in the home or on the playground.
"This is the same type of behavior," he said. "This is bullying behavior."
But the MPD cannot stop the problem alone. It needs the help of citizens.
Being aware of domestic violence helps start dialogue, Tupper said, making it hard to ignore the problem.
As a community, he said, we must stop avoiding the problem. Blaming the victims of domestic abuse as somehow being the cause of that abuse needs to stop. And haulting that behavior starts by raising the bar and becoming intolerant to such mentality.
"A lot of times in a community we think it is a personal problem," he said. "I have had instances of people fighting outside or fighting in the front yard, and people won't call the police."
Tupper said police advise citizens to look at domestic violence as they would view burglaries or any other crime: if people see something suspicious, they should report it. If they don't, the result could be worse than witnesses realize.
Since 1995, 239 instances of domestic violence have resulted in the death of someone involved, according to the Crime Victim Assistance Division of the Iowa Attorney General's Office.
Dotti Thompson, executive director of the Domestic Violence Alternatives/Sexual Assault Center, said domestic violence affects one in four relationships.
"Everyone probably knows someone who is affected by domestic violence," she said.
Thompson's agency is partnering with the MPD for Domestic Violence Awareness month.
Having a month of awareness provides the community with information as to what services are available locally as well as shedding light on the dynamic of abusive relationships, Thompson said.
"It gives people an understanding of why a victim of domestic violence might stay in a relationship," she said.
The Domestic Violence Alternatives/Sexual Assault Center has an informational display at the Marshalltown Public Library. The display will also be at the Marshalltown Community YMCA/YWCA on Oct. 15 to 19.
For Domestic Violence Awareness Month, marked MPD vehicles are also sporting purple domestic violence awareness ribbons.
Thompson said she hopes the month will prompt victims of domestic violence to seek out the vast support system in place to help them.
"Tell someone you trust: a friend, a teacher, a co-worker," she said.
If you or someone you know needs help getting out of an abusive relationship, contact the Marshalltown Police Department at 641-754-5725, the Domestic Violence Alternatives/Sexual Assault Center at 641-753-3513 or 800-779-3512 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.