Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Rural Pennsylvania county starts task force to provide domestic violence resources and education

Officials in a rural Northwestern Pennsylvania county have begun a task force to address the challenges local residents face in accessing services for victims of domestic violence, Tim Hahn reports for the Erie Times-News. The Rural Erie County Domestic Violence Task Force was formed in Erie County in February to tackle issues such as transportation options—especially for victims in one-care households—from rural counties to services in Erie.

About 75 percent of abused women stay with their abuser for economic reasons, especially in rural areas, where intimate-partner violence often goes unreported. A study by researchers in Central Pennsylvania found that most primary-care physicians rarely screen women for intimate-partner violence.

Corry Police Chief Rich Shopene, who helped develop the task force, told Hahn, "We're looking to hit the areas that are basically underserved for domestic violence and for victims of domestic violence, to reach out and provide services. We see [domestic violence] too much, unfortunately, especially with the long winter and everyone cooped up. We need to get the message out that demeaning your partner, the mental abuse and not just the physical abuse . . . that's not acceptable behavior, and there is help for people."

Goals of the task force are to let victims know there are services available, to bring more services to rural areas and to launch an education campaign to teach children, even as young as elementary school, that hitting is wrong, Hahn writes.

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