The people of Johnson County and surrounding areas have largely come to grips with the stigma of domestic abuse through horrifying reports of battered spouses and partners.
The subject has been taken out of the closet for a society that once looked the other way or chose to regard as a private matter the mental and physical demeaning of one person by another.
While the growing awareness of this human scourge has led to an increase in arrests of abusers and harsher sentences for those convicted of their crimes, less dramatic but more proactive approaches have been integral to saving untold numbers from futures of subjugation.
Leading in this effort to save potential victims before they become trapped in dangerous situations has been Turning Point Domestic Violence Services.
The organization has for several years followed a dual path — working closely with police, courts and medical organizations in situations during which abuse actually takes place — but also reaching out in the community to help individuals, especially young people, become aware of warning signs and steer clear of relationships that could pose a danger to them or take steps to get out of such situations in which they might be ensnared.
This approach has been an evolutionary one. For instance, there were only two presentations given by the organization to youth groups in 2005. That number had mushroomed to 715 in 2012.
Quantifying the results of such an approach is impossible owing to the impracticality of assessing situations that don’t materialize, but its importance can’t be overstated.
In fact, community awareness of the problem and a resolve to do something about it largely are responsible for the societal change from acceptance of domestic abuse as a “matter to be kept within the family” to non-tolerance.
It has taken bravery on the part of many abused individuals to escape from their situations. Some have even come forward to share their stories in the hopes that it will help others.
There is no magic elixir for domestic abuse, no one-size-fits-all prescription leading to a cure. However, steps such as those that have been adopted locally have made a difference.
It is safe to say that untold numbers of lives have been saved because so many now know how to avoid becoming trapped in dangerous situations, and many others are aware of how to escape from them.