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Missouri unveils plan to halt violence against women

During the year 2000, more than 9,300 Missouri women sought emergency room treatment or inpatient care as a result of being physically or sexually assaulted.

Additionally, nearly 38,000 domestic violence cases-an average of more than 100 per day-were reported to law enforcement officials in Missouri during the same year. Fifty-seven percent of the murders committed against women were attributed to domestic violence.

The damage is not limited to women. Children who witness or are victims of this violence are at risk for long-term physical and mental health problems, including alcohol and substance abuse, subsequent victimization, and becoming abusers themselves.

Such alarming statistics that reveal the enormous physical, emotional and economic damage violence against women inflicts on Missouri’s most vulnerable populations has prompted community and state leaders to take decisive action. The state is unveiling a comprehensive, coordinated, state prevention plan complete with roles individuals, communities and policymakers throughout Missouri can play to prevent such violence against women in their homes, communities and state.

The plan-Violence Against Women: Missouri State Prevention Plan, Strategies for Action-will be presented in town meetings across the state during the next couple of months. Community and state leaders are expected to discuss the plan and explore what actions can be taken locally to prevent violence against women.

Some of the following strategies are included in the plan:

· Resource Development – developing resources to create and sustain efforts to prevent violence against women;

· Coalition Building – building partnerships to work collaboratively to prevent violence against women;

· Media and Public Information – changing community norms to promote non-violent behavior and positive relationships;

· Policy Development – developing policies that fully support and encourage the prevention of violence against women; and

· Collecting and Using Data – gathering data to describe the extent of violence against women, and using data to develop policies and interventions, and to obtain new funding.

A copy of the state plan, Violence Against Women: Missouri State Prevention Plan Strategies for Action, is available on the Internet at Copies are also available by contacting the Department of Health and Senior Services at (573) 751-6215. A list of community meetings, dates, and contact persons follows: New Madrid ~ January 29, 2004

Contact: Michelle Terrell ~ 573-748-2708

Cape Girardeau ~ January 30, 2004 Contact: Tammy Gwaltny ~ 573-332-1900

Poplar Bluff ~ January 30, 2004

Contact: Mary Ann Allen ~ 573-686-4873

St. Joseph ~ February 5, 2004

Contact: Dwight Scroggins ~ 816-271-1480

Joplin ~ February 6, 2004

Contact: Alison Malinowski ~ 417-782-1772

Versailles ~ February 12, 2004

Contact: Lorraine Kerksiek ~ 573-378-5438

Kirksville ~ February 19, 2004

Contact: Kim LeBaron ~ 660-665-0021

Kansas City ~ March 4, 2004

Contacts: Susan Miller ~ 816-526-5220

Palle Rilinger ~ 816-931-4527

Springfield ~ March 5, 2004

Contact: Nancy Berlin ~ 417-863-7273

St. Louis County ~ March 11, 2004 Contact: Kathleen Hanrahan ~ 314-726-6665

City of St. Louis ~ March 12, 2004 Contact: Barbara Bennett ~ 314-646-7500, ext. 110

Columbia ~ March 15, 2004

Contact: Joan Hermsen ~ 573-884-1420

· Violence against women is the leading cause of injury for women between the ages of 15 and 54 years.

· Violence against women affects women across all economic, educational, cultural, racial, and religious lines.

· Violence against women can take many forms, from intimidation and control to stalking, battering, rape, and even murder.

· Violence is categorized as: physical violence, sexual violence, threats of sexual or physical violence, and psychological/emotional abuse, including coercive tactics.

· Typically violence against women is considered a women’s issue, however, women do not necessarily control the resources or the decisions on a community level that lead to prevention.

· Everyone plays an important part in ending violence against women.

Action Steps for Women:

1. Become familiar with resources available in the community for women who are victims of violence including hotlines, shelters, crisis centers, counseling centers, and health service organizations.

2. Seek assistance if a victim of emotional, psychological, or physical abuse in any relationship.

3. Support victims and suspected victims of violence against women.

4. Model non-violent behavior and teach children to reject any form of violence.

Action Steps for Men:

1. Understand the emotional, social, and economic consequences of violence against women and support efforts to counter violence against women.

2. Urge known or suspected perpetrators of violence against women to seek help by consulting medical professionals or law enforcement.

3. Support victims and suspected victims of violence against women.

4. Model non-violent behavior and teach children to reject any form of violence.

Three very important resources are:

1. Child Abuse Hotline-1-800-392-3738

2. Domestic Violence Hotline-1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

3. Sexual Assault Hotline-1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

The Victim’s Advocate Program in Madison County has stopped for the time being. Efforts are underway to apply for the grant and begin the program again this fall. Anyone needing assistance is encouraged to call the New Way Shelter at 1-800-663-9929 or their local police department.

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