issue even for rural Pike MILFORDnOctober is designated Domestic Violence Awareness Month , because even amid Pike County's rolling hills, mountain streams, cascading waterfalls and quiet little villages, domestic violence remains with us. There's a film festival every year, antique shops and some very good restaurants. There are churches of various faiths, mostly well-attended. Even the increasing summer traffic has the redeeming feature of offering economic security to the local businesses. It is a beautiful place to live, an opinion shared by the thousands of people who have relocated here. The homes in the villages and in the mountains are well kept. Yet in some of these homes, there exists a disease, a disease that can and does reseed itself, like so many of the local wildflowers. In one of these homes, there lives a family of four. The father is a well-respected businessman in the community. The mother is also well respected, a woman who volunteers in many local organizations and is able to be one of those rarities in our modern life, a stay-at-home mom. There are two children, a boy of 13 and a girl 11. They do well in school and have high expectations concerning their future. To most, they are the All-American family. Once in awhile someone notices the woman wears long-sleeved shirts in the summer and long pants even on the hottest days. She laughs and says, "I hate my arms and legs n they're too fat." No one sees the bruises she is hiding. It briefly crosses some minds that this is unrealistic since she is very slim, but then our society accepts that most women don't like some part of their body so it's forgotten. Once in awhile, their closest neighbors hear some shouting, but then, all couples fight so it is forgotten. The thirteen year old is acting out in school, but then all teen-agers have anger issues, so it is forgotten. One day a headline blares across the local paper, "Husband shoots wife and then self." On reading further friends and neighbors note surprisingly, the woman had an order of protection against her husband for violence. The police think he became so enraged that he "snapped", killing her and himself. The neighbors say, "
why would she do such a thing? "
but they were such good people." "
how could this be?" "
there must be some mistake, we would have known." After a few days, other events take over the headlines and so it is forgotten. The children live with their grandparents. The years pass. The boy is acting out more than ever, but then who can blame him, he's been through so much. No one notices he has become violent with his girlfriend. No one notices his sister is quiet and is dating a boy who is controlling her every move. These are all symptoms of this terrible disease. Symptoms most of us don't want to see. What could we do about it? If approached, most women deny there is anything going on anyway. Moreover, if there is abusive behavior, why doesn't she just leave? Studies reveal that a boy raised in a home where the father is violent with the mother may become violent himself. A girl who sees her mother beaten and submissive, could have a better than good chance of becoming that herself. Children learn by example. The longer they are witnesses to the abuse, the more they normalize the behaviors. Violence, for these children, is the norm. So it continues. The above is a fictional account, but there is a reality going on around these quaint villages and pristine woods. Survivors' Resources Inc., is located in Milford and is available 24 hours a day to handle calls from residents who are suffering from domestic violence and sexual assault n adults and children. They provide a 24-hour hotline, 570-296-HELP. Between July 1, 2004 and June 30, 2005, Survivors' Resources Inc. of Pike County serviced 376 people seeking assistance for domestic violence in person and handled 384 telephone calls from others. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. If you know someone who may be in a violent situation but cannot seem to help themselves, please pass the telephone number on to them. If you want to help, please take some time to get to know the organization, Learn how you can help. Make a donation of your time and/or money. For more information, call 570-296-2827.