There were 141 domestic violence-related murders in Pennsylvania last year, 10 of which occurred in Allegheny County.
In an effort to increase public awareness of domestic violence, the “PA Says No More” campaign was launched. Part of that is a website which includes a video series produced in partnership with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PACDV). Part of the campaign is to let Pennsylvanians know that everyone can play a role in preventing and stopping domestic violence.
“There are a number of things that we can do, including talking to our children about healthy relationships and what the characteristics of healthy relationships are from the time that they’re very small," said PACDV Executive Director Peg Dierkers. "We might start with conversations about what to look for in a friend, and as they get older about dating relationships.”
Plus, she said if somebody notices that someone is struggling with an abusive relationship, they can let that person know that help is available.
“There are 60 domestic violence programs across the state serving all 67 counties,” Dierkers said, “50 rape crisis centers serving all 67 counties and about 120,000 individuals do reach out for help in Pennsylvania each year.”
The continuing problem of domestic violence is complicated. But Dierkers said part of the problem is an ongoing culture of acceptance that treats domestic violence and assault as something that is commonplace.
“Movies, certain musical entertainers and books all contribute to that culture where violence is romanticized or glorified, and we need to be talking about how that won’t be tolerated anymore and about why that’s not OK,” Dierkers said, “that there are actually real people experiencing the effects of that kind of behavior, and it has lifetime consequences.”
The focus of the campaign centers on the message that sexual assault and domestic violence are never appropriate and that Pennsylvania must do all it can to break the cycle of abuse. The “PA Says No More” campaign includes a video series which features survivors of violence and abuse sharing their stories. It’s part of the national nomore.org effort.