I’m sure that when most women date or marry they don’t imagine that abuse will be part of the package. Well-known entertainer Rhianna didn’t when she dated Chris Brown and private citizen Seise Lorent sure didn’t when she married her husband. When Lorent wed 17 years ago, she saw her mate as someone charming and willing to shower her with all of the attention and consideration she'd ever longed for. When her mate struck her in front of their one-year-old daughter two years into the marriage, she began to see the truth. It took nearly ten years of weekly beatings and other abuse to eventually cause Lorent to leave. Unable to pay all of her expenses, Lorent, who had a small child and was pregnant with another, found herself evicted from her home. Instead of walking into the welcoming arms of family, friends and well-wishers, Lorent found herself living out of her car and going to the homes of those who would let her and her children use their shower. This lasted for nine months.
You may think that Lorent's story is not the norm or that this could never happen to you…but think again. According to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one in four women in the United States reports experiencing violence by a current or former spouse or boyfriend at some point in her life. According to a U.S. Department of Justice report, approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States. The most current data available from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) indicates that in 2008 an aggravated assault occurred every seven minutes in Florida. Specifically in Dade County, in 2008 there were close to 2500 aggravated assaults for a population size of close to 2 1/2 million. Compare this to almost 4500 aggravated assaults for a Dade County population size of almost two million during 1992 when Lorent was walking down the aisle.
However, Lorent's story can offer hope for many others. Now at age 36, Lorent is living in a two-bedroom apartment in Miami Gardens with her 13-year-old daughter and three-year-old son. She has put herself through nursing school and continues to strive towards a better life for her and her children. She receives support through Women in Distress of Broward County, a nonprofit organization advocating for domestic violence victims.
The website for Women in Distress of Broward County has the statement, "Domestic violence is a community-wide problem, affecting people from all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, as well as their children and families." Statistics reinforce this statement suggesting that is also a worldwide problem. A 2005 study coordinated by García-Moreno for the World Health Organization (WHO) found that of the 15 diverse cultural sites visited in ten countries, the proportion of ever-partnered women who had experienced intimate partner sexual or physical violence in their lifetimes ranged from 15 percent in Japan to 71 percent in Ethiopia. This study's findings confirm the invasiveness and enormity of domestic violence against women in a wide range of cultural contexts.
You might be asking, "How can I help? I'm glad you want to know. Below are three simple actions you can do to get started.
- Volunteer at a Domestic Violence Shelter
- Join the mailing list of a victim advocacy center to stay alert for ways you can help
- Participate in October's Domestic Violence Awareness Month
This first step in addressing any public health problem is to acknowledge it on an individual and community-wide basis. Look for ways to help those in your life that you know or suspect are victims of domestic violence-doing so will start a cultural revolution in your sphere of influence. You can make a difference!