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We Must Not Be Silent About Domestic Violence

The Interior Journal - 10/16/2017

Andy Beshear

Attorney General

FRANKFORT ? The rate of domestic related violence in Kentucky is higher than the national average.

According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, in the United States, more than 27 percent of women and 11 percent of men have experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner.

In Kentucky, more than 37 percent of women and 31 percent of men are affected by this violence in their lifetime. It is a very real possibility that your neighbor, co-worker or extended family member is in danger right now.

We must not be silent about this violence ? these victims depend on us.

October marks National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I am asking all Kentuckians to lend their voices by joining with my office to speak out about this crime.

If we are going to end domestic violence ? we must all stand up for the men and women who are the subject of others' jokes; educate others on how to be responsivebystanders; and offer support for all victims of abuse.

My office continues to collaborate with local law enforcement and prosecutors to ensure they have the best training and resources to reduce fatality risks in domestic violence. This month, my Office of Victims Advocacy published the Domestic Violence Policy and Procedure Manual to better equip state prosecutors with the latest updates in law and practice and to promote victim-centered, trauma informed prosecutions.

As your Attorney General, I have made seeking justice for victims of violent crimes, like domestic violence and sexual assault, one of the core missions of my office.

Since taking office, my team and I have been standing with victims, working to hold offenders accountable and strengthening the network of victim advocates in your community and across the Commonwealth.

Our Office of Victims Advocacy has assisted nearly 400 victims of domestic violence over the past two years. The office provides free training and technical assistance on partner violence and stalking, as well as responses to high-risk populations.

In June, the office created a statewide map of victim advocates that includes local and regional prosecutors and law enforcement agencies. The map helps guide survivors and their families to the appropriate agency in their county or region that can counsel them and advise them of their rights as victims.

In January, we launched a Survivors Council, the first of its kind in any attorney general's office nationwide. The United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking served as inspiration for our council.

Members of the council are survivors of violent crimes, and advise and assist us on matters related to victims of crime, including advancing victim-centered services, trainings, policy and raising awareness.

These survivors have persevered through the unimaginable, and they have real courage and know firsthand what is needed to seek and ensure justice for victims.

Lisa Murray, council member and survivor of domestic violence, says the council has provided her a seat at the table and empowered her to make things better for other victims who have to walk the same road.

"Through the experience on the Survivors Council I have learned that people do care, will support and fight, will lift you up when depleted of energy and will celebrate as you learn that you are worthy of all things good in this world," Murray said. "When that realization happened to me, I became a survivor, no one's victim."

I am thankful to Lisa and every partner for working with us to make sure Kentucky has a zero tolerance stand on domestic violence.

In addition, my office just received a nearly $3 millionDepartment of Justice, National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative grant to help us combat sexual assault and continue our ongoing efforts to seek justice for victims.

The work we are doing with the council is helping to change the culture throughout the state and ensuring that the Office of the Attorney General remains victim-centered.

Our fight for victims cannot be done alone ? we need everyone to join us.

By talking about and reporting domestic violence, providing support to survivors and being an active bystander you will help us to erase the stigma.

To reach the national domestic violence hotline, which is free and confidential, dial 800-799-SAFE. You may also find information on social media about National Domestic Violence Awareness Month at #DVAM, or learn more about what my office is doing at @kyoag.

Please speak and join us this month and every month to raise greater awareness. Far too many are counting on us.

 
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