Source: NJ News.com
The video of football player Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancee had been visible barely a half-day before New Jersey’s domestic violence hotlines started seeing a jump in calls.
“High profile cases like this really help raise awareness in every one of our communities,” said Phyllis Adams, executive director of Women Aware, the domestic violence agency for Middlesex County.
By early this week, her group had already seen more calls to its hotline, she said. At a morning meeting yesterday of domestic violence workers from around the state, other county hotlines were reporting a similar experience, she said. “We feel this is a good thing, in a sense, because it means people are reaching out.”
As a state, New Jersey sees more than 70,000 calls to law enforcement every year for domestic violence – or nearly 200 incidents each day, according to the 2011 Uniform Crime Report.
The reaction of men to the Rice video has been particularly gratifying to Jane Shivas, executive director of the New Jersey Battered Women’s Coalition. “I’ve seen comments from men about being disappointed and horrified by his behavior, “ she said, noting their reaction appears to be different from what men might have expressed 20 years ago.
The hidden nature of the video – revealing the couple’s altercation within the “privacy” of an elevator – took viewers behind closed doors in a way that is rare among in cases of intimate partner violence.
In Rice’s case, the essential viciousness of the attack was “clear and blatant,” Shivas said.
Violence of the level seen in the in the Rice video rarely represents the first episode of violence within a relationship, Adams said, explaining that it typically – but not always — escalates gradually. “What starts out as the threat of a shove, then turns into a shove — and then it turns into a hit.”
Adams says nearly all spouses face some kind of financial barrier that makes them reluctant to rock the boat. While most victims worry about how they will be able to support themselves and their children should they leave the relationship, others have more specific financial worries. She recalled in particular one client with a special needs child that needed expensive services – a factor she had to weigh carefully before leaving.
Domestic violence experts also say a high-profile case of spousal abuse can also trigger bad memories among those who have been abused – in some cases making them relive their own violent past.
The statewide hotline number is (800) 572-SAFE (7233)
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