Woman's cry for help doesn't go unheard | Klaas
By MARK KLAAS
Auburn Reporter Regional Editor
October 7, 2009 · Updated 4:42 PM
Jody's story is too hard to tell, too poignant to ignore.
Torn with emotion, the Auburn woman was nevertheless willing to share a part of her painful past.
A domestic violence victim, Jody – her last name is being withheld to protect her identity – courageously took the microphone, struggled to follow the words of a self-prepared address, yet persevered in front of a small group of supporters and strangers.
As a young, financially dependent mother of three, Jody experienced domestic abuse early in her marriage.
Isolated and new to the area, Jody didn't know where to turn for help. She was afraid to approach police officers, but even more fearful of her husband.
"He would threaten me, tell me I was a bad mother and told me he was taking the kids. I believed him," Jody told the group assembled at the City Hall Plaza for a domestic violence awareness ceremony last week. "I never imagined this for my life."
At the time, there were few if any services available to help her.
"I thought this was the way it was supposed to be," she said.
Years later, Jody was victimized again in another relationship. But this time she got help, receiving support from a domestic violence prevention advocate who connected her to secure shelter, medical coverage, counseling, community services, financial security, housing and protection.
Seeking answers, Jody found hope. Consequently, she wa s able to put her life back together.
"I don't have to live in fear anymore," she said. "I'm not alone, and I don't have to cry."
The City of Auburn, the Domestic Violence Victims Task Force and supportive agencies helped Jody regain her feet, providing safety planning, awareness and prevention – all of which enabled her to tackle her personal plight and break the cycle of domestic violence.
"I no longer have any tolerance for domestic violence – for me and for my community," she said.
Jody no longer lives in fear of police officers. One officer in particular encouraged her to stand up for herself.
"He talked to me so kindly and respectfully," Jody recalled. "He talked to me about not settling for less and that I deserved better than this. He told me it was my duty to keep myself and my children safe."
While there is more help today to support domestic violence victims, the problem has not gone away. Research shows that up to 40 percent of women suffer some kind of domestic abuse during their lives, and up to 70 percent of children who witness domestic violence also are victims of abuse or become batterers.
The City of Auburn has taken some steps to address the problem.
In 2005, the Auburn Police Department created its first full-time domestic violence detective to work with members of the prosecutors office and domestic violence prevention advocates.
According to Bob Lee, Auburn deputy chief of police, the city's efforts have lead to more calls and responses.
Since 2005, felony related domestic violence has increased 47 percent, 102 percent for non-felony-related cases in Auburn, Lee said. In the first month of this year, the police's records division processed 1,944 protection orders.
While the numbers are high, they reflect a larger realization of the problem and a greater awareness of the services available to confront it, Lee said.
Some women and families have found help, and Jody is among them. For her, the pain of the past remains, but the future appears bright.
Today, she is a single mother working as a peer support specialist intern for an Auburn-area counseling and consultation agency.
"I do groups," she said with confidence. "I help with the recovery process."Contact Auburn Reporter Regional Editor Mark Klaas at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-253-833-0218 (ext 5050).