Domestic violence burdens continue

EVERETT — Every day the initials “DV” are entered on the county jail log.

The initials stand for domestic violence and for each person booked, there’s at least one victim.

Domestic violence takes lives and destroys families. Women and men, boys and girls can be victims or perpetrators.

“This isn’t a women’s issue, this isn’t a children’s issue, this is everyone’s issue,” Lynnwood police domestic violence coordinator Megan Sweeney said. She’s also chairwoman of the South County Domestic Violence Task Force and one of the organizers of this month’s series of candlelight vigils, part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

In Lynnwood, police investigate domestic violence on average every 15 hours, Sweeney said.

Police encounter incidents of abuse almost every shift, Snohomish County Center for Battered Women spokeswoman Lisa Aguilar said.

“It happens every nine seconds across the United States. Every nine seconds a victim is being physically abused,” she said.

Officials hope to raise awareness to a problem that often goes under-reported.

“The more of the community that gets involved in it and educated about domestic violence, the better the chances that it won’t exist or will be addressed immediately if it does occur,” Sweeney said.

Local courts and probation officers are overwhelmed with domestic violence cases, she said.

All too often domestic violence turns deadly, said Jenny Wieland Ward, executive director of Everett-based Families and Friends of Violent Crime Victims.

At least once a year in Snohomish County, someone dies as a result of domestic violence, she said. Most of the violent crimes committed in the county involve people who know each other.

Education and awareness may help break the cycle, Aguilar said. When people learn to recognize abuse, they can help victims get support and get police involved.

“We are, of course, working for the end of domestic violence, but we don’t see it happening in the next few years or next few generations,” Aguilar said. “Our goal here, especially with the candlelight vigils, is to raise awareness.”

Reporter Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437 or jholtz@heraldnet.com.

Learn to spot and stop domestic violence

An incident of domestic violence occurs every nine seconds across the United States, experts said. Learning to recognize abuse and report it can help stop the violence.

Unexplained bruising, torn clothes and absences from work may be signs there’s trouble at home.

Victims of abuse tend to isolate themselves from neighbors, relatives and friends.

If abuse is suspected, the first step is to try to talk to the victim and encourage them to get help.

Don’t put yourself in harm’s way if someone is being hurt or harassed. Call 911.

For resources and support, women and men may call the Snohomish County Center for Battered Women at 425-252-2873.

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