As Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders observed, the numbers are "sobering." According to the FBI, approximately 1,500 women each year are killed in the United States by either their husbands or boyfriends. Domestic violence accounts for an estimated 2.3 million physical assaults every year, which means on average one domestic violence assault occurs every 13.7 seconds.
Many assaults are never reported to law enforcement officials so the actual number of domestic violence-related incidents may be substantially higher.
"As we all know, one of the most underreported crimes that we see in our communities is domestic violence," Sanders stated during a special presentation at the Newhouse domestic violence shelter in Kansas City on Wednesday, August 10.
"Often times we know people in our own families who have been a witness to, a victim of or experienced the impact of domestic violence in their lives. Domestic violence affects us all."
Sanders presented checks to Newhouse and two other Kansas City shelters, Hope House and the Rose Brooks Center, for $26,350 each. The shelters each received $33,333 earlier this year from the fund that the Jackson County Board of Domestic Violence Shelters administers.
The Jackson County Domestic Violence Fund is generated through a combined state and county fee of $10 on all marriage licenses issued in the county and $2 fee on all civil case filings in the 16th Circuit Court.
26 Percent Increase
The $59,683 provided to each of the shelters for 2011 represents a 26 percent increase compared to the $44,212 total for 2010.
"On behalf of Newhouse, Hope House and Rose Brooks, I want to thank all in the county who have worked so long and hard with us to help all the women and children we serve," said Newhouse President and CEO Leslie Caplan. "That would be thousands of women and children through the years."
She added, "On behalf of all those women and children, I want to thank you for helping protect so many people."
Caplan and Sanders each stressed that during difficult economic times domestic violence becomes more frequent.
"As sure as night follows day, when the economy is down, domestic violence goes up," Sander said. "In a time of growing need, it is more important than ever that we provide the resources necessary for these local shelters."
In the first six months of 2011, Sanders pointed out, the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office filed 250 domestic violence cases. He called that a "staggering number," for these are felony cases often involving repeat offenders facing state charges.
"That doesn't include all the municipal cases that are filed in every community of this county," stressed Sanders, "and, again, that doesn't include the immense number of cases that are never reported to law enforcement."
Commitment To Helping Victims Of Domestic Violence
Joining Sanders for the check presentation were County Legislators Theresa Garza Ruiz (1st District At-Large) and Scott Burnett (1st District), as well as three members of the County Board of Domestic Violence Shelters, Lanna Ultican, Lisa Pelofsky and Kansas City Councilwoman Melba Curls (3rd District).
Noting she has now served on the board for 13 years, Ultican said, "Unfortunately, during that time domestic violence has not become extinct. But we are going to keep plugging away and doing the very best we can so hopefully we can [help the shelters] do even more in the years to come."