YWCA of West Central Michigan
The YWCA of West Central Michigan is a community program committed to providing a safe haven for victims of domestic violence. Their mission statement, revised May 2009, asserts “YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all” (YWCA). Clark (2008a) defines, “ violence as the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, mal-development, or deprivation” (p.973). Domestic violence is a problem that strongly necessitates community outreach in support of a safe haven, such as the YWCA, for victims.
Domestic violence dates back to 753 BC when laws permitted men to beat their wives using switches or rods having a certain diameter. In American History, Alabama and Massachusetts were the first two states to make wife beating illegal in 1871. Even though it was illegal, domestic violence continued, and the first battered women’s shelter did not open until 1973. It took one hundred years to make something available to the victims of these disputes. Although it took many years for these safe havens to open, by 1989 there were over twelve hundred shelters across the United States assisting over three hundred thousand women and children. By the year 2005, 3.3 billion dollars was authorized to expand programs and create new shelters (Saint Martha’s Hall, 2007).
Since 1993, the rate of domestic violence has been steadily declining. The reason for this is still unknown but there is probably more than one factor contributing to this declination. However, there is still cause for concern. Clark (2008b), proclaims, “as many as 3.5 million incidents of family violence occur each year, 49% directed at spouses, 11% at children, and 41% against other family members” (pg. 973). In 2010, statistical reports show that there were 4046 reported cases of domestic abuse within Grand Rapids Michigan. This equates to 11 cases per day. In the overall state of Michigan, it was reported to have had 101,171 reported cases of domestic violence, there were 277 cases per day (McClimans, 2011). Also in 2010, the United States as a whole had 25,786,520 cases of domestic violence reported, or 70,648 cases per day (Smith, 2011). Therefore the conclusion can be drawn that Grand Rapids contributes to less than 1% of the overall United States statistical average. Although domestic violence can happen to people from a variety of social statuses, it most often is seen within families that lack a support system and to those who have poor or no coping skills. There seems to be an imbalance of power and control within the family that can escalate an incident. The greatest risks for becoming a victim include the uneducated, unemployed women who are highly stressed, or who suffer from mental illness. The risk of becoming a victim or the abuser increases if there has been childhood abuse. "More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime” (National Criminal Justice Reference Service, 2012). This is compared to the statistics found in the YWCA website which acknowledges that, “Nearly 25% of surveyed women and 7.6% of surveyed men said that they were raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, or date at some time in their lifetime” (YWCA). Maltreatment and abuse can be in a variety of forms. Children are vulnerable to abuse in the forms of physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect. Intimate partner abuse includes physical abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, threats, stalking, economical neglect, and enslavement. The elderly are at greater risks for physical/emotional/sexual/medication...
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