Meridian Star

Local News

October 5, 2009

Domestic violence affects everyone

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Last year, there were 244 domestic violence arrests in Meridian and Lauderdale County - that's more than 20 cases of domestic violence per month in this area alone.

October is recognized National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. All year, victims of domestic violence are encouraged to call for help. But in October, many advocacy campaigns focus on raising awareness, not only for victims, but for people who may not realize how much abuse happens every day, in every town.

In the first nine months of this year, Care Lodge Domestic Violence Shelter in Meridian had already served more than 700 women and children escaping abuse, and have fielded 8,233 crisis-related phone calls.

"One thing about domestic violence," said Leslie Payne, executive director of Care Lodge, "unless it has affected you or your family, you don't realize the prevalence of the issue."

But she said that, whether or not you realize it, domestic violence has an effect on everyone, especially because it happens so much. One abusive relationship can affect the families, friends, and employers of both the victims and the abuser, as well as using the resources of hospitals, law enforcement, and the court system.

"It's kind of that ripple effect," said Payne. "One abusive relationship can affect 30 or 40 people."

Care Lodge is the only domestic violence shelter in a nine-county area. It provides safe, confidential shelter for women and their children who are victims of abuse, along with other services, such as helping women get on their feet.

This year, Payne said, demand for their services has increased.

"We're at over 8,000 (crisis-related calls) just in the first nine months, and historically the holiday season is one of the most active periods for us," she said, "So, this may be one of the most active years in the history of Care Lodge. I've been here since 1993 and this is the most active I've seen us for this period of time."

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