Editorial: Support those fighting silence that enables domestic abuse
Illinois has had a domestic violence act since 1986. Congress passed the Violence Against Women's Act in 1994.
But in the decades that followed, despite those laws that made it easier to identify and prosecute abusers, one thing remains the same: Speaking up is difficult for victims.
"It takes great courage for someone to give voice to their trauma -- whether it be physical, emotional or sexual violence," wrote Maureen McGuire in a letter to the editor we published Tuesday.
She works at the Family Shelter Service domestic violence agency in Glen Ellyn.
She was prompted to write because of the growing #MeToo movement which is giving a strong voice to those who have suffered sexual abuse and harassment and is urging the public to give support to domestic violence victims as well.
"If more of us take part in the conversation and support anyone's decision to speak up about these injustices, it could help bring about real change in a society that has turned a blind eye for too long," McGuire wrote.
LaTasha Unseld can attest to that statement. She is a victim who, she said, "I never really knew about domestic violence" until it happened to her.
On Aug. 29, 2014, she told her partner of more than 20 years she thought they should separate. And he snapped. What was a typical argument turned extremely violent.
Unseld told the story of that day to Daily Herald columnist Burt Constable in an article published Jan. 29. It's graphic and hard to read.
Pictures of her taken in the hospital afterward are hard to look at. She was brutally attacked and raped by a man she had loved and with whom she had two children.
"Domestic violence doesn't know any income, racial or class boundaries. It's power and control issues," said Kristin Jordan, a social worker with the Schaumburg Police Department who worked with Unseld after the attack and through her recovery.
Jordan is supportive now as Unseld speaks out about her situation in order to help others.
First, Unseld spoke at her attacker's sentencing. And now she tells her story -- which includes a history of verbal abuse and controlling behavior by her partner -- because others need to know they are not alone.
Indeed, the statistics, according to the Illinois State Police website, are stark:
Every 15 seconds in the U.S. a woman is beaten.
Two in five women who are murdered are killed by their husbands.
Domestic violence results in more injuries that require medical attention than rape, accidents and muggings combined.
Silence enables these abusers. Unseld and McGuire and others who are speaking out about domestic violence are working to change that culture and need your support.