New attempt to help domestic abuse victims

To the Editor:

Domestic abuse, according to statistics, has increased. Although the exact reasons cannot be pinpointed, the latest analysis points to the possible presence of a “warrior/bully” gene which can manifest all the time or just activate when the person gets under excess stress. And, of course, one of the causes of excess stress is fear of economic loss. This may explain why recession can bring out the worst in anyone with this gene.

However it may be, abuse — whether committed by a male or a female — is ugly and potentially lethal.

A new project is beginning, called AWAY TO GO. The aim of this program is to help re-locate abused spouses, as well as children and abused elderly, to other counties within the state and also to other states. This program would be a victim protection program, similar to the well-known witness protection program. The idea for this project was that of Haywood resident Preston Tinsley. To speak about this program, he can be reached at 828.646.8667. 

If there is no answer, leave a clear message with your name and phone number and he will call you back.

The program is in a fledgling state, as there are many facets to consider, such as means of transportation, job training provision in the new location, temporary shelter until housing can be found, food, clothing and medical supplies needed until a means of income is established and, of course, notification of protective police agencies in the new location, as well as help from police agencies and the sheriff’s office in Haywood County. 

Domestic violence is against the law and victims have the right to take legal action to end the abuse. The U.S. Department of Justice defines domestic violence as “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain control over another intimate partner.” If you, or anyone you know needs immediate assistance, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is 800.799.7233 (SAFE). 

The many forms of abuse defined are:

• Physical abuse includes hitting, biting, slapping, battering, shoving, punching, burning, cutting and pinching and pulling hair.  

• Sexual abuse is any coercion of a victim into having sexual contact without the victim’s consent.

• Emotional abuse is just as serious and involves deflating a victim’s sense of self-worth by constant criticism, name-calling, injuring a person’s relationship with his/her children. 

• Psychological abuse involves an attempt to invoke fear through intimidation, verbal threats to physically hurt him/herself, the victim, the children, family, friends or pets. It also includes destruction of property and preventing the victim from going to work or school

• Also in the abuse category are stalking and cyberstalking. Stalking involves continuous spying, watching, following, sending gifts, collecting information about a victim, making phone calls, leaving written messages, showing up at a victim’s home or workplace. Cyberstalking refers to any online action or unwanted repeated emailing.  

• Dating violence is actually considered another form of domestic violence. 

North Carolina law also protects disabled adults and disabled elderly, both male and female. Abuse is not exclusive to Haywood County. It exists in every state and nationally and internationally.

JoAnna Swanson


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