October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

LIEUTENANT Gov. Victor Hocog on Tuesday signed a proclamation designating October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“Many years back,” he said, “we did not hear a lot of complaints because we…remained very silent. We did not tell our friends, our family members what really happened between couples.”

But today’s generation, he said, “is more open…and the governor and I as well the Legislature stand to assist anti-domestic violence programs in any way that we can.”

He urged the community to join the movement to end domestic violence. “We also ask everyone, in their homes, workplaces, churches, and communities, to use respect as a tool for healthy and safe relationships.”

This year’s theme is, “Break the Cycle, Heal Generations.”

The Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and the Family Violence Task Force invited all members of the community to “come together during Domestic Violence Month as a unified voice to declare that the CNMI does not tolerate domestic violence and any forms of abuse. As members of this community, it is our responsibility to end domestic violence.”

In the U.S., according to the proclamation, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner.

Maisie B. Tenorio, executive director of the Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, said they don’t have data regarding domestic violence in the CNMI.

“But the Attorney General’s Office previously reported that more than half of cases they had were domestic related,” she added.

“People always ask us for data. But the truth is we don’t know. We do have a lot of victims that come to us.”

She described domestic violence as a “hidden crime.”

“We don’t have a good sense of the pervasiveness of the crime. We don’t talk about data because it does not give a full picture. For every survivor who files a report, there are probably many out there who are still living with abusive partners or living with domestic violence.”

Designating the entire month for the fight against domestic violence helps increase awareness, Tenorio said.

“Over the years we have seen more reporting but that doesn’t necessarily mean that domestic violence is increasing — it might mean that more survivors are getting help.”

She said they refer victims to Karidat, the family court, or to the Family Violence Task Force for assistance.

“There are so many different things that we can do — it really depends on what the survivors need at that moment. Sometimes the survivor needs shelter, so we refer her to Karidat, which manages a shelter. They may need a restraining order, so we refer them to the family court or the AG’s office.

“Sometimes they are not ready to leave their home so an advocate will help them with safety planning — we let the survivors control what help they get depending on what is best for them at that moment.”

Tenorio said they respect the decisions victims make. “We honor their need for survival. We understand that they have to make choices that many people don’t ever have to make. When they are ready, they can call the hotline, 234-5100. It is open 24/7.”

Source: Marianas Variety :

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