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Domestic violence has a serious impact on Marshalltown families

Domestic violence is complex. It often goes unreported. It is often is repetitive. And it often is an unhealthy solution to relationship challenges.

Domestic violence is also complex in who it impacts. Not only are survivors forever changed by the abuse they endure, many times children are directly or indirectly impacted by domestic violence as well. Child endangerment charges are often associated with domestic abuse charges because children were present during the abuse, sometimes being held by the victim or were victims themselves.

Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper is all too familiar with the negative impacts of domestic violence because his department sees cases of it all the time. In Marshalltown alone there were 350 domestic violence calls to the Marshalltown Police from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018. And those are just the ones that were reported. Most often victims of domestic violence do not report the crime.

“These criminal incidents require significant police department and community resources. These incidents also have long-term effects upon countless families and children in our community,” Tupper writes in his column on domestic violence in Sunday’s Marshall Times. “As a police officer, I have observed the devastating effects that domestic violence has on families. … Families are routinely destroyed by the never ending cycles of violence. I have investigated far too many cases involving young children who are victimized themselves or have to tell the stories of the violence they witness between family members.”

Survivors of domestic violence may suffer physical injuries as well as psychological injuries associated with trauma. Some of those issues will never go away. Likewise, children who are witnesses to domestic violence may also face similar issues and additionally, may internalize the behavior causing them to believe it is acceptable or that it will happen to them.

Local organizations, such as ACCESS and Child Abuse Prevention Services, play a vital role in providing resources to survivors and children involved in domestic violence. If you have the means to donate to these organizations, your money would be well spent.

Anyone is capable of educating themselves about domestic violence and raising awareness. Those who see signs of it or directly see it can condemn the behavior and additionally get the police involved.

The following behaviors are signs of domestic abuse when the perpetrator seeks to gain control over the victim, according to domesticviolence.org:

• Pushing, hitting, slapping, choking, kicking or biting

• Threatening a victim, their children, other family members or pets

• Threatening suicide to get the victim to do something

• Using or threatening to use a weapon against the victim

• Keeping or taking the victim’s paycheck

• Puts the victim down or makes them feel bad

• Forcing the victim to have sex or to do sexual acts they do not want or like

• Keeping the victim from seeing friends, family or from going to work

In addition to knowing what domestic violence is, it’s important to know that it stems from a need for power and domination. Domestic violence is always the fault of the perpetrator. Stand up for survivors, but also push for education about healthy relationships.

It’s time that as a community we put a stop to this behavior. If not out of empathy, then take action because of the community resources this crime requires.

The Times-Republican is committed to showing the impact of domestic violence and highlighting efforts to p­ut an end to it. If you would like to share your story, thoughts about the content or topics related to domestic violence that you would like to see covered — on or off the record — please reach out to T-R News Editor Emily Barske at ebarske@timesrepublican.com or 641-753-6611 ext. 255.