If it weren’t for the crazy weather lately, it would be hard to believe summer is over and winter is seemingly on our doorstep. Now’s the time for cozy hoodies, hot cocoa and apple cider, warm pumpkin pie and being thankful for togetherness. 

October is usually when we start trying to trick our brains into believing things are warmer than they actually are. This hits closer to home than you may think. It is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month and unfortunately, there are too many folks who never get a chance to experience warmth or closeness because the one they love is the one hurting and abusing them. It is not readily talked about or understood, and it happens to more of those we care about than we could ever realize.

Domestic Violence (Intimate Partner Violence) is a serious preventable public health crisis. It can be described as an ongoing perpetuation of intimidation, physical violence, sexual assault, emotional and financial abuse and/or other abusive behaviors as part of a methodical pattern of isolation, power and control committed by one intimate partner against the other. The secrecy, severity and frequency of abuse can vary dramatically and spans all economic and cultural backgrounds.

According to the Center for Disease Control, about one in four women and one in seven men have experienced some form of violence in their lifetime by an intimate partner. Among teenagers who are dating, 9 percent of girls and 7 percent of boys have experienced physical dating violence. In the United States, it’s estimated that about 10 million children witness some form of family violence annually and at least 50 percent of batterers who abuse their intimate partners similarly abuse their children. Men who witness their parents’ domestic violence were twice as likely to abuse their own wives and children than sons of non-violent parents. A lot of victims, especially males, never report to the police out of fear of disbelief from the justice system and/or retaliation from their abuser. 

Did you know intimate partner violence accounts for at least 15 percent of all violent crimes? Did you know having a firearm in the home with an abuser increases the risk of homicide by 500 percent? Did you know 72 percent of all murder-suicides in the US involve an intimate partner? Did you know 94 of the victims of these crimes are female? When will our society care enough about our neighbors to break the cycle of violence ineradicably?

Effective prevention of domestic violence requires community investment, collaboration and participation across all sectors – between violence prevention fields, and among related health, judicial and social movements. Preventing violence means changing our society and all its institutions. It means eliminating those attitudes, social norms, beliefs, behaviors, environments and policies that contribute to violence and promoting those that stop the violence. 

Supporting the development of healthy, respectful and non-violent relationships can greatly reduce the occurrence of violence and help victims to become survivors. 

Stop ignoring the signs and red flags. Stop accepting the violence as “normal”.

Hi-Line’s Help for Abused Spouses is a non-profit organization that has always been committed to breaking the cycle of violence by providing immediate confidential crisis intervention, critical support services and numerous resources to victims of violence. We network in communities throughout our service area year-round promoting partnerships, education, awareness and fundraising.

We sincerely appreciate the public’s continued donations and support of our program. This year we wanted to do something a little different and collaborated with local grocers in our service area to raise both money and awareness. With immense gratitude owed to our community patrons, as well as Gary & Leo’s IGA in Conrad, Curry’s Thriftway Market in Valier, and River Market, Benton Pharmacy, and The Governor’s Keep located in Fort Benton, our “End Violence Donation Drive” in September was a huge success! All proceeds go to helping victims throughout Pondera, Toole, Teton, Liberty, Chouteau and Glacier counties. 

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, we are always here to help. You are not alone. Please do not hesitate to call Hi-Line’s Help for Abused Spouses at 406-278-3342, our 24-hour Crisis Line at 1-800-219-7336, or stop by our office located at 300 N. Virginia St, Ste #307, Conrad, MT, 59425.

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