Domestic Violence is a cause near and dear to my heart. Or rather, I should say, the *prevention* and awareness of DV is near and dear to my heart. Many readers of this blog are close friends and family that know of a pretty significant episode of DV that touched our lives and almost killed my sister-in-law. I don't really talk about it much because it isn't really my story to tell. The short story is that my sister-in-law was attacked in her home by an ex-boyfriend who stabbed her more than 20 times. Amazingly, she lived. He is in jail.
Unfortunately, this is only one way in which DV or abuse has touched my life. It is hard to talk about publicly because it affects other people, and perceptions of other people, but suffice it to say that my childhood was not without violence directed toward me and those around me by one specific perpetrator. I will not name the person, not for their own protection, but because I refuse to give them power over me any longer.
All of this is a bit of background to help explain why I was so frustrated by a news headline recently that I was moved to write to the editor.
The headline read: "One is Too Many Ten Women Were Victims of Domestic Violence Last Year in Jackson County." The article was written by Vince Tweddell and was in the May 2012 edition of the Medford Sneak Preview, a local new paper primarily filled with local ads, a few articles and upcoming local events. I would link to the full copy of the article but I can't find it online.
The headline is massively misleading. It says "Ten Women Were Victims of Domestic Violence Last Year in Jackson County."
When I read that I read that *only* ten women were victims of DV last year in Jackson County. This is a horrible misrepresentation of the facts. It is wordplay at its worst! This headline minimizes the impact and effect of DV on women.
Here are the facts: According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (which I have written about before) 1 in 4 women in the United States will be a victim of DV in her lifetime. In Oregon 1 in 6 women has been the victim of forcible rape and 1 in 10 women have been the victim of intimate partner violence. (All statistics available on the NCADV website.)
The headline, if you bother to turn to page 20 to actually read the article, is referring specifically to the ten women that were killed as a result of DV in Jackson County over the last year.
This, of course, is a horrible number and the point of the article (again if one actually bothered to read it) is that this number is higher than "normal." Jackson County has seen an increase in DV and DV deaths in the last year or so.
That, in part, is what makes this headline so disappointing. It misleads the reader into thinking that there were *only* ten cases of DV last year. That doesn't seem like such a big number. What's the big deal? It can lead people to think that DV isn't actually a problem that needs attention.
Because I was so moved by this misleading headline I wrote the following email to the editor of the Medford Sneak Preview Nathanial Hayden.
On May 5, 2012, at 8:40 AM, Corrie Beebe wrote:
I must say I was very disappointed by your headline on Vince Tweddell’s article about Domestic Violence in Jackson County, “Ten Women Were Victims of Domestic Violence Last Year in Jackson County.” This headline is incredibly misleading and actually minimizes the impact of Domestic Violence occurrences. A novice reading this headline would get the impression that only ten women suffered from abuse or violence in the last year. That doesn’t seem so bad. In reality, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (www.ncadv.org) 1 in 4 women in the United States will be a victim of Domestic Violence in her lifetime. In Oregon 1 out of every 6 women has been the victim of forcible rape and 1 out of 10 women has been the victim of intimate partner violence. (All statistics available at the NCADV website.) While I appreciate Mr. Tweddell bringing the subject of Domestic Violence into greater awareness, I am disappointed that the headline minimizes the actual damage caused.
Corrie D. Beebe
Let me just add here that I rarely take time to write to a publication.
I received the following response:
Dear Corrie Beebe,
I am sorry that that aspect of the headline was overlooked. That was not our intention.
541-778-8164PO Box 8412
Medford, OR 97504
Really? Two sentences? That was it. Huh. Let me just say I was disappointed with that, too.
Domestic Violence IS a problem that needs attention. I give props to Mr. Tweddell for writing about these women who lost their lives as a result of violence against them. I grieve for their families. I pray that their perpetrators will pay for their crimes. I just feel so disappointed that this opportunity to cast light on such a dark shadow in our society was minimized with such a misleading headline.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence please contact one of the many organizations that can help, including the NCADV.
The only way things like this get changed is when enough voices speak out against it. I am speaking out against it.