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Commentary: Help address a silent epidemic

By Chuck Nettestad on behalf of United Communities Advocating Non-Violence (UCAN) Committee, Alexandria, MN

We have a silent epidemic in our community and despite its severe ramifications and consequences, most of us continue to ignore it and live our lives as if it doesn't exist. Earlier this year we had a fatality in our county resulting from a domestic dispute. Look at what the statistics tell us is happening in our midst every day.

In 2017:

• The Alexandria Police Department responded to 213 calls for assistance relative to domestic violence. This led to 44 arrests, 5 citations, 4 juvenile arrests and 58 written reports.

• The Douglas County Sheriff's Department received 120 domestic calls resulting in 33 arrests, 2 citations, 1 juvenile arrest and 45 written reports.

• Someplace Safe, our local agency serving the victims of domestic violence, provided services to 506 citizens of Douglas County, of which 48 were children.

That's an average of between two and three calls every day. And this isn't the total picture because domestic violence is one of the most persistently under-reported of all crimes. It's time for more of us to address this issue; to learn more about what is going on around us and get involved in reducing these problems. This behavior impacts our entire community and our children for the remainder of their lives and beyond.

Two opportunities to get involved and learn about domestic violence are coming up and you are invited.

• Tuesday, October 16 is the 12th annual "Take Steps Against Violence Walk." It starts at the Douglas County Courthouse at 5 p.m. After a walk down Broadway with informational signs and banners, we finish with a sandwich, beverage and a presentation at Calvary Lutheran Church.

• Wednesday, October 17 is the 18th annual "Domestic Abuse Awareness Luncheon" at Arrowwood. Marcia Siira, a local victim of domestic abuse, will share her story of how life's journey can unfold in unexpected ways and entrap individuals in the midst of family, friends and peers.

UCAN (United Communities Advocating Non-Violence) and Someplace Safe are hosting these events. If you have questions or wish to purchase tickets to the luncheon they are available at Glenwood Bank or you may contact Someplace Safe at 320-762-1995.

Join us; learn more about domestic violence; show your support and help our community address this epidemic.