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Editorial: Shining a light on domestic violence

A year ago, seven months into a pandemic  that brought shutdowns, quarantines, closed schools and offices, and economic uncertainty, domestic violence was at an all-time high in the region.

Montgomery County law enforcement officials reported 10 deaths in six incidents of domestic violence in just a few months.  A September 2020 double murder-suicide in New Hanover Township resulted in the deaths of two parents and a grandfather, prompting District Attorney Kevin Steele to say that his office was “seeing more domestic violence homicides … than ever before.”

“These are not random acts of violence or murders that are being fueled by drug trafficking or some other crime. These are murders that are relationship violence or domestic violence in nature. The fact that all of our homicides since this pandemic has begun have been domestic violence or relationship violence is a disturbing trend,” Steele said during a September 2020 news briefing.

A year later, the magnitude of domestic violence remains devastating. Recent cases show the dangers of relationship violence that has led to tragic deaths of young adults in the region.

In recent weeks, 19-year-old Gilbert Newton III was convicted in Montgomery County Court of first-degree murder for the fatal stabbing of his ex-girlfriend.  Morgan Darlyn McCaffery was 18 and had just graduated from high school when she was stabbed more than 30 times in the Abington train station where she was meeting with Newton.

On Sept. 11, a Delaware County man who was awaiting trial on charges he assaulted and strangled his girlfriend during a domestic abuse incident in July, allegedly fatally stabbed the young woman while the two were on an outing on the Schuylkill River Trail near Betzwood.

Freddy Remigio Mendieta-Pando, 23, is charged with killing his former partner, 23-year-old Karina Torres. Investigators said Torres moved out of the Upper Darby residence the couple shared and on July 12 she obtained a temporary protection from abuse order against Mendieta-Pando. A hearing for a final PFA order had been scheduled for Sept. 16.

The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence and the NoMore.org project recognize October as an opportunity to remind neighbors, family members and victims to recognize the need for intervention.

“Our mission is to lead, mobilize and raise our voices to support efforts that demand a change of conditions that lead to domestic violence such as patriarchy, privilege, racism, sexism, and classism. We are dedicated to supporting survivors and holding offenders accountable and supporting advocates,” reads a statement by the National Coalition against Domestic Violence.

The annual observance each October serves as a reminder to intervene and offers encouragement to victims to seek help and an opportunity to train everyone about the warning signs.

Anyone can fall victim to domestic violence, including young teens who are dating, older family members who may suffer from health or mental health issues and others who want to believe the warning signs of violence from their partner will go away on their own.

The NoMore.org project suggests that the next time you’re in a room with 6 people, think about this:

  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience violence from their partners in their lifetimes.
  • 1 in 3 teens experience sexual or physical abuse or threats from a boyfriend or girlfriend in one year.
  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men have experienced sexual violence in their lives.

Local resources are available to help. If you are in fear or suspect abuse in a relationship or household, contact:

  • Women’s Center of Montgomery County, 24-hour domestic violence hotline: 800-773-2424.
  • Laurel House 24-hour hotline: 800-642-3150.
  • “SafeBerks”: English Hotline: (610) 372-9540;Spanish Hotline: (610) 372-7463
  • Berks County District Attorney’s Domestic Violence Unit: (610) 478-7171
  • Domestic Violence Center of Chester County 24-hour free hotline: 888-711-6270 or 610-431-1430
  • Domestic Abuse Project of Delaware County hotline: 610-565-4590

Domestic violence has been an epidemic behind closed doors of our communities long before the coronavirus. The importance of awareness, understanding of victims’ needs, and embracing the responsibility to help are critical. Let this year be an answer to a cry for help against the scourge of abuse and violence.


Source: Berkshire mont

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