EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first installment of a two-part series on domestic violence. Part two will appear in the Friday edition of Daily Call.
MIAMI COUNTY — With the New Year approaching and the end of the holiday season in sight, many holiday stressors are almost over.
For some people, though, there is still a worry of increased partner violence.
Miami County Public Health’s 2017 health assessment showed that Miami County residents may be dealing with a higher rate of domestic violence than the state as a whole, according to a six-year average rate from the Ohio Family Violence Prevention Project and the Office of Criminal Justice at the Ohio Department of Public Safety.
With increased alcohol consumption during the holiday season, that rate of domestic violence may be a concern.
Statistics showing an issue
In all of Ohio, there were approximately 624.8 incidents of domestic violence per 100,000 adults between the ages of 18-64 years old between 2009-2014.
For Miami County in particular, that rate was approximately 846.2 incidents of domestic violence per 100,000 adults between the ages of 18-64 years old between 2009-2014.
According the 2010 census, Miami County has a population of approximately 102,506, which could be affecting the rate cited in the 2017 health assessment from the Ohio Family Violence Prevention Project and the state’s Office of Criminal Justice.
“Domestic violence is an issue in every community; however, I do not see Miami County having more of a problem than anywhere else. Sometimes it may depend on how the jurisdiction is reporting the data,” Miami County Sheriff Dave Duchak said.
The issue is still an apparent one, though, as Duchak said that deputies also respond to reports of domestic violence and disputes on a regular basis.
“Deputies respond to domestic violence/dispute calls on a fairly daily basis — unfortunately, several a week,” Duchak said.
A mix of holiday stress and an increase of alcohol consumption around the holidays can also influence an increase of domestic violence incidents.
“Law enforcement sees an increase in domestic violence around all of the holidays and those events in which there is alcohol consumption,” Duchak said. “An increase in alcohol consumption, money issues, the stress of the holidays are likely reasons there are increases during those (times).”
Across the state, approximately 65,000 women between the ages of 18-64 are physically assaulted by a current or former partner each year, according to the Ohio Colleges of Medicine Government Resource Center in 2014.
Even further, approximately 32,000 of people between the ages of 15-19 experience physical dating violence, and 29,000 (90.6 percent) of those people are forced to do sexual acts by someone they are dating.
For those within the jurisdiction of Miami County Sheriff’s Office, there were 105 reports of domestic violence in 2015, 84 reports in 2016, and 102 reports by the mid-December 2017. Those included all the instances in which a sheriff’s office deputy took a report, but those numbers did not include an incident in which domestic dispute occurred but there was no violence reported. Those statistics also do not include other reporting agencies in Miami County, such as municipalities with their own police departments.
Comparatively, the rate of violent crime, rather than domestic violence, cited in the 2017 health assessment is much lower in Miami County than the state as whole or the U.S. as a whole.
According to a five-year average rate between 2010-2014 from the Ohio Department of Public Safety Office of Criminal Justice Services, the rate of violent crimes in the U.S. as a whole was 386.7 per 100,000 people.
For Ohio as a whole, that rate was 299.5 violent crimes per 100,000 people.
For Miami County, that rate was 72.4 violent crimes per 100,000 people.
Factors influencing domestic violence
Domestic violence is an issue not only for married couples, but also in situations between family members and in dating relationships.
“Domestic violence under Ohio law is where there is some type of violence/assault against a family member or individuals involved in common-law relationships and residing in the same household,” Duchak said. “Law enforcement must determine who is the primary aggressor in those instances and make a custodial arrest. There are occasions in which both parties are arrested as the primary aggressors.”
A number of stressors can influence incidents of domestic violence, issues that can pop up year-round.
“Financial issues, job stability, substance abuse issues, control issues, and infidelity are some of the common factors contributing to domestic violence,” Duchak said.
Caryn Scott, associate professor of Social Services at Edison State Community College, said that drugs and alcohol are contributors to domestic violence, citing the heroin and opioid epidemic that has plagued the county for a number of years.
Learned behavior can also influence domestic violence events if people grew up witnessing domestic violence. Poor impulse control is also a factor. “A lot of that can come from being raised in a violent home,” Scott said.
Mixing different stressors and poor impulse control could lead to outbreaks of violence. “When people are stressed, people lose control of their impulses,” Scott said.
Other influences on domestic violence situations can include mental illness.
A number of victims affected
Domestic violence offenders are more often men than women, Scott said, but anyone can be affected by domestic violence. “Anyone can be a victim,” she said.
Scott also explained that there’s no socioeconomic structure that domestic violence solely exists under and that it can affect anybody of any economic status, whether poor, wealthy, or in between.
Domestic violence also impacts the children of violent homes, with children absorbing the stress of the situation and learning bad habits that could influence their future relationships.
Miami County Public Health’s 2017 health assessment discussed how one study — The Centers for Disease Control-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences Study — showed that people in the study who grew up with a number of adverse childhood experiences, such as witnessing or being a victim of violence, put those people at a “greater risk for alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, and suicide along with greater risk for heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, skeletal fractures, and liver disease.”
In Ohio, approximately 48,000 children live in homes where an adult reports intimate partner violence, according to the Ohio Colleges of Medicine Government Resource Center.
“There’s so much more to it that children deal with,” Scott said. “They live with such anxiety.”
Scott said that children living in a situation of domestic violence carry a “constant burden and worry” about their safety and their parent’s safety. “That causes depression and anxiety,” she said.
Along those same lines, those children also deal with a constant fear about their home life. “It’s like being on alert all the time,” Scott said.
Children in those situations are also absorbing the message that violent reactions are appropriate ways to deal with conflict, which can continue the cycle of violence.
“You learn that solving problems involves anger and rage and hurting other people,” Scott said.
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 451-3336