Rice incident spurs domestic violence conversation

FILE - In this May 1, 2014, file photo, Baltimore Ravens football player Ray Rice holds hands with his wife, Janay Palmer, as they arrive at Atlantic County Criminal Courthouse in Mays Landing, N.J. A video that appears to show Ray Rice striking then-fiance Janay Palmer in an elevator last February has been released on a website. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Ray Rice was let go by the Baltimore Ravens on Monday and suspended indefinitely by the NFL after a video was released that appears to show the running back striking his then-fiance in February. The incident has put the spotlight squarely on the issue of domestic violence in our country.

YWCA Northeast Indiana leaders said domestic violence can happen anywhere and to anyone. Statistics from the YWCA indicate Fort Wayne police get around 12,000 calls a year related to domestic violence incidents.

Alexis Moore said she was part of that statistic. She stayed in an abusive relationship for seven years. She said her situation got so bad that the police knew her name and even begged her to leave, but it wasn’t that easy.

“It’s mental, then it gets physical, then it gets to really bring you down to depression,” Moore said.

Moore said she went back to her abuser around six times and even had her kids taken away from her. She reached her breaking point when her boyfriend hit her and busted her lip. She was sent to the hospital with multiple stitches. She said something changed in her, and she reached out to support groups such as the YWCA.

Debby Beckman, the president and CEO of the YWCA Northeast Indiana, said there needs to be more education around the issue of domestic violence, so people can begin to see it as a community problem and not just a household problem. She said a sign of domestic violence is isolation because the root of the issue is the need for power and control.

“If you don’t know where the food’s going to be for your children, if you don’t have housing…Resources are cut off, so if someone has taken over your whole life, it’s just hard to leave that situation,” Beckman said.

Beckman said the organization is seeing more people utilize their shelters. She said they hope the number is rising because of raised awareness to domestic violence and not because there is an increase of abusers. Victims like Moore said it’s the support and resources available that’s helped them on their journey to recovery.

“The fear eases as you get more confident in yourself,” Moore said. “It eases…If someone loves you, they love you unconditionally, and they will not hurt you.”

October is ‘Domestic Violence Awareness’ month. The YWCA has a crisis support shelter, offers counseling in partnership with other community organizations such as Headwaters Counseling, partners with other safe shelters and does case management work.

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