October marks Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Franklin County officials are hoping people take notice.
The Franklin County Commission this week officially recognized the month with a proclamation, citing the more than 500 warrants and 200 charges issued by the county prosecuting attorney’s office for domestic incidents in the county in 2011.
Prosecuting Attorney Bob Parks said his office has a dedicated attorney on staff that exclusively handles domestic violence cases.
“You just don’t realize the amount of domestic violence that goes on,” Parks said Tuesday during the commission’s weekly public meeting. “Most people just don’t see it until it affects them personally.
“It is out there and it is a problem,” he said.
Commissioner Ann Schroeder said groups like ALIVE, Alternatives to Living in Violent Environments, are providing help and support to those who are victims of domestic violence, but more needs to be done to stop domestic violence before it starts.
Those concerns are felt across all of Missouri.
Last year there were 40,613 domestic violence incidents reported by state law enforcement agencies.
That was a decline from the 41,526 reported in the state in 2010, but still higher than in previous years.
The number of incidents reported in 2009 was 37,042. In 2008, it was 34,358. In 2007, it was 37,308.
In nearly half of those incidents, the victims are either married to or live with, but are not married to, their attacker, according to the Missouri Highway Patrol’s Statistical Analysis Center.
The center reported that out of the 41,526 incidents in 2010, 8,193 victims were attacked by their spouses, or 19.7 percent, while another 27.2 percent were attacked by someone they lived with but were not married to.
The state researched the issue last year, discovering that 11 percent of all homicides in the state in 2008 were domestic violence related.
The study also showed the average age of domestic violence arrestees in Missouri from 1999-2010 to be 32.7 years old, with those ages 26-35 comprising the largest age group of those arrested for domestic violence.
The preponderance of domestic violence offenses during the years studied were committed by white males — over 77 percent of arrestees were men and over 63 percent were white.
The issue spans across the country.
President Barack Obama issued a proclamation Monday recognizing Domestic Violence Awareness Month as well.
“For far too long, domestic violence was ignored or treated as a private matter where victims were left to suffer in silence without hope of intervention,” Obama said.
“We’ve made significant progress in changing laws and attitudes, providing support to survivors and reducing the incidence of domestic violence,” he said, “But we also know that we have not come far enough and that there is more work left to be done.”