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Domestic abuse won’t go quietly into night

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THE pages of The Republic conveyed good and bad news in recent days about the very serious issue of domestic abuse in this community.

An alarming report was headlined on Page One Saturday, noting that the number of arrests stemming from domestic abuse reports was already ahead of last year’s record for the entire year. Through September, Columbus police had made 75 arrests. In all of 2011, there were 74 arrests.

Those statistics can be viewed from different perspectives.

On the one hand, it could be indicative of an increased effort by local police to deal with a crime that has resulted in serious injury and even death on a number of occasions.

It also could be an example of how police have broadened their interpretation of domestic violence to include mental abuse, as exemplified by threats to spouses. In some respects, those domestic warnings represent a form of terrorism.

Even if the statistics demonstrate a heightened awareness by both law enforcement and the public, there is no escaping another conclusion that can be drawn from the numbers. Domestic abuse is not going away.

While that is a depressing conclusion, there is reason for hope. In this community particularly, domestic abuse prevention has become a top priority for a number of groups and institutions beyond law enforcement and the courts.

Most heartening is the attention paid to the issue by young people, who are bringing energy and creativity into the effort to get others involved and to show potential and existing victims of abuse that there are roads that can be taken to a better life.

A prime example of this creativity is currently displayed on the Harrison College campus at Columbus Municipal Airport. Organizers have adopted an old-fashioned clothes-drying method — hanging laundry on a clothesline — to bring home in a personal way the tragic results of domestic abuse.

The only items draped on the line are T-shirts — 62 of them — to represent the number of Hoosiers who have died during the past year because of domestic abuse.

Each shirt bears the name of a victim. In a number of cases the names hit home. One of the victims — Gary Brown — is from Bartholomew County. He was shot in the home of a girlfriend by the woman’s former boyfriend.

Another is from Jackson County. Two others are from Johnson County.

Whether the names are familiar to anyone who stops by the display is not so important as the message the overall exhibit sends. These were real people whose futures were robbed by someone else.

The Harrison College display is one of many that have been put together in observance of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month through the rest of October.

We have come far in an effort to stop this senseless violence. We still have a long way to go.

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