For the past week, local Los Angeles media markets have been bombarded with stories about domestic violence. Between radio disk jockey "El Cucuy" (Ren?ín Almend?írez Coello) and former Los Angeles news anchor Jim Lampley, it seems that the media is finally paying attention to one of the silent tragedies that affects nearly one third of American households.
Domestic violence is a real problem in the United States.
The real reign of terror, ladies and gentlemen, takes place in our homes and not in the Middle East. Domestic violence lacks a poster child like Saddam Hussein or Usama Bin Ladin to drag out for the court of public opinion. It is hard for us, as a society to see the face of violent offenders, because they walk amongst us with ease. Violent offenders look like our spouses, our children, our grandparents, or our neighbors.
Because it happens so often, in so many different settings, you never know who could be a violent offender.
Domestic violence can take place between a man and a woman, and it can affect children in the home in ways that can cause long lasting problems. There is no distinguishable group that suffers from domestic violence more than another; it happens in poor and rich families, to the educated and uneducated, and to the married and unmarried. Because of guilt, embarrassment, or shame, many are reluctant to speak about what is happening to them. A victim's silence can lead to devastating outcomes, including hospitalization or death.
Too often, we as a society fail to recognize that domestic violence is a problem that has a solution. You can contact your local police if you are the victim of violence. If you are unwilling to press charges, there are places where people can call to receive more information and to discuss their options when they experience domestic violence. Shelters and community centers are places where families can go to escape the risk of staying in a home where violence is taking place or to receive counseling. With 30 years experience, The East Los Angeles Women's Center is one of many places where people can begin to find their way through the storm.
What happened to El Cucuy's family is no different than what happens in the homes of Latinos all over Los Angeles. Now that a light has been shed on this issue, perhaps more people can begin to talk about the violence in our midst.
David A. Roman:
David Roman is Director of Development at the East Los Angeles Women's Center and can be reached at (323) 526-5819. The Center operates a confidential hotline at (800) 585-6231 to help anyone who experiences domestic violence.