Violence survivors cope with terror on daily basis

Published 3:57 am Wednesday, October 6, 2004

By By JOHN EBY / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Working with battered women as Domestic Assault Shelter Coalition (DASC) gives Cathy Brown a unique perspective on "homeland security."
Family violence survivors "live with terror and the threat of terrorism daily in their homes," she said at Tuesday night's annual candlelight vigil in the Old Rugged Cross Memorial Garden in Pokagon, between Dowagiac and Niles.
Recalling the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Brown, who has been helping Cass County victims for four years, said, "I remember how scared I was. I was shocked and devastated that this could be happening in our country. I wondered where my children were, who I knew that was hurt. It was all people talked about for weeks to come."
Billions of dollars spent on homeland security "will keep all Americans safe," Brown said, "but in reality, not until every home in our land is free of domestic violence will we be safe."
Talking about domestic violence is nothing new for Brown.
Myth: Alcohol, drugs and stress cause domestic violence.
Reality: Alcohol, drugs and stress are excuses batterers use to justify their violent behavior.
Myth: Batterers have a problem controlling anger.
Reality: Batterers show remarkable control. They choose to hit their partner, where to hit, when and how to hit them.
Myth: Survivors don't care about their children.
Reality: Survivors often stay in the home out of fear of unprotected visits or custody with the batterer. Leaving can put children at greater risk.
Myth: Men are abused as often as women.
Reality: 95 percent of all abuse is perpetrated against women; 43 percent of murdered women are killed by their intimate partner; and 21,100 women are murdered each year by their intimate partners.
Partner homicide is the leading cause of death for women younger than 45.
Faces come in all colors, shapes and sizes. They may be rich, poor, educated, uneducated or neatly made up after they are battered, swollen and bruised.
But "one thing is always the same," she said. "The eyes. You can see the fear and confusion."