Nonprofit works to fight domestic violence issue

Published 7:18 pm Sunday, August 27, 2017

A slammed door followed by muffled screams. An argument that turned to violence.

The cause: an angry intimate partner; the result, homicide.

Domestic violence is a continuing problem in communities across the United States, and according to a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control, half of female homicide victims in the United States were killed at the hands of their intimate partners.

“More than 55 percent of the deaths were related to partner violence, and the vast majority of those were carried out by a male partner,” the report states.

Ruth’s House, a domestic violence shelter in Washington, is working toward fighting domestic violence in Beaufort County and eastern North Carolina.

Jaclyn Cullipher, client services associate at Ruth’s House, said just last month, the nonprofit served 29 women and children.

Cullipher said the nonprofit tries to act as voice for women in the community and provide them with a safe place. The organization provides shelter and counseling services for victims. It also has a 24-hour “help line,” a hotline victims call in which trained female volunteers provide advice or just a listening ear.

“The hardest and scariest part for them is finally standing up for themselves. We provide, of course, a safe place. … You can call us every day for a month as you’re making those decisions. No one should have to do that alone,” Cullipher said.

According to the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, as of July 23, 46 in the state have been domestic violence-related in 2017. There were 82 domestic violence murders in all of 2016.

“To me, that obviously means these women weren’t able to escape their abusers, or they had nowhere to go or didn’t realize that it had to go that bad,” Cullipher said.

The nonprofit also works to educate residents in the community about the dangers of domestic violence and what they can do to help.

Cullipher urged people to stand up against violence if witnessed in the community. She said it’s important to debunk the idea that some problems in a marriage are simply a couple’s problems.

“I think the biggest thing, I’ve even heard my own mother say it, is that everybody thinks arguments in the marriage is the married couple’s problems. Nobody ever steps up and gets involved. We’ve got to get over that. That is not the case,” Cullipher said.

Cullipher said if residents witness what seems to be a violent situation between two people who know each other, they should not be hesitant to step in and say something, just as they would if it was an attack by a stranger.

“Do ask yourself: if this was an attack between two people who didn’t know each other, what would I do?” Cullipher said. “Domestic violence isn’t just (the couple’s) problems. It’s everybody’s problem.”