This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Wednesday, August 18, 1993

August 18, 1993 - family violence

"The family is one of the most violent institutions in this country."

This jarring statement comes from a nurse and counselor in a center that deals with the victims of family violence. (Source: "Hospitals cope with America's new 'family,'" Hospitals, November 5, 1992.)

In the same article I found an equally jarring statistic: "domestic violence affects one-fourth of all US families from every social stratum and geographical area." This estimate, from the American Medical Association's National Coalition of Physicians Against Family Violence, has been borne out repeatedly. The place doesn't seem to matter.

In rural Iowa, an 11-bed unit treated 100 children in a year, 90 percent of whom had been sexually abused. In a Chicago hospital, the director reported, "I have doctors and doctors' wives as clients."

Where does all this violence come from? Most researchers agree that it is learned behavior, passed from generation to generation. According to some studies, as many as 30 percent of children from violent households become abusive parents.

Beyond that, in about half the cases of domestic violence, if the wife (or mother) is being physically abused, so are the children.

It happens I know something about this, at least about the kind of family violence called "verbal abuse." My earliest memory is of my father shouting at me, swearing at me, telling me how stupid I was.

Dinner was the worst. I don't think I digested a meal till I left home. I was 17. By the time I was 22, after a long journey around the country talking with scores of my father's people, I made my peace with all that. And with him.

But for a long time, I was terrified to have a child. I was afraid I'd fall into the pattern. I was afraid I would force my own offspring to hate me, as so many of my cousins and kin hated and feared their fathers.

But I worked through that one, too. My big breakthrough was when I told my dad, "This stops with me." I believe it has.

Parents don't have to perpetuate the cycle of pain. Victims can recover. With some real effort, they can even become healers.

One of the groups dealing locally with the issue of family violence is the Women's Crisis Center of Douglas County. Executive Director Mary Hillsman recently shared some second quarter statistics with me.

Compared to last year, the overall increase in reported incidents of family violence has jumped 62 percent. The number of crisis calls (to their 688#D8484 hotline) went from 734 to 1076. Last year, by the end of the second quarter, 43 children had been placed in counseling programs. This year, the center has placed 73 children.

The issue of family violence should concern, and ultimately does affect, all of us.

What can you do about it?

Well, you might consider coming to the first "Freedom Forum, 1993 Community Meeting." Sponsored by the Women's Crisis Center, it will be held on Friday, August 20, 1993, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Philip S. Miller Library. Feel free to bring a lunch.

The session will explore how the Women's Crisis Center is growing, and explore future programs, facilities, funding, and community expectations.

With luck, with the combined effort of many thoughtful participants, this forum may point the way toward stronger families.

It seems so simple and so right: to have families where none of their members fear violence from each other. What will it take?

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