This article was submitted by Erin Prochnow, YWCA Cass-Clay Executive Director.

Violence of every kind is sent out across newsprint, television and computer monitors, radio airwaves and cell phone screens daily.

And as the disturbing snapshots grab your attention, you can bet some of the victims are people you know, maybe even someone you love. Violence is not discriminatory.

During our national Week Without Violence™ October 16-22, the YWCA Cass Clay is declaring “Enough!” and inviting Cass-Clay area residents to join the cause. It’s time to start realizing that no problem is insurmountable. Office on Violence Against Women Director Susan B. Carbon hit the mark when she wrote that “everyone has a role to play, and every bit helps.  Collectively we can, we must, do this.”

The victims run the gamut, starting with unborn children; homicide is the leading cause of death for all pregnant women. One in five teenage girls and young women is experiencing dating violence. An estimated 2.1 million senior citizens are suffering physical, psychological and other forms of abuse and neglect annually.

While we cannot entirely gauge the emotional toll, violence is costing communities millions of dollars a year in social and health costs.

A recent survey, commissioned by the YWCA, sheds light on the startling truth of issues facing young women today. Nearly 1 in 4 women (22%) report experiencing unwanted sexual act(s) with a relative or acquaintance before the age of 18, and 1 in 6 women report such sexual encounters at age 18 and older, according to a Harris Interactive poll.

Locally, the YWCA Emergency Shelter is seeing an increase in the reports of domestic violence.  So far this year, 3 of every 4 women and/or children, or 75%, are seeking the services at our shelter because of violence, up from 47% in 2007.  In 2010, the YWCA Emergency Shelter provided nearly 24,000 nights of shelter, the most ever in our 105-year history.

The YWCA will not tolerate these appalling numbers. These are not just statistics; they are the faces of hundreds of thousands of women and girls. The news continues to provide the tragic details – a teenager who has lost her freedom, now the victim of human trafficking. A young girl who has lost her innocence, the victim of sexual assault. A woman who has been hospitalized with a broken eye socket, the victim of domestic abuse.

The YWCA is leading the charge, armed with the conviction of “strong alone, fearless together.” Join us! We can no longer afford to have our children become victims of violence in our homes, schools and communities. It’s not solely up to parents to solve the problem; the Cass-Clay community must take responsibility, too. We need a village.

Together we can be the change that eliminates violence. Imagine how different our lives would be if we were free of fear. Sign on with YWCAs across the country who who are providing extensive resources to millions of people to help build a peaceful society. The YWCA Cass Clay is encouraging people to speak out against violence, consider one of the many volunteer opportunities at our Emergency Shelter, or donate items from our needs list. For information on how you can make a difference, visit the websites of the YWCA’s Week Without Violence™ (ywcacweekwithoutviolence.org) or the YWCA Cass Clay (ywcacassclay.org). Through the YWCA’s comprehensive approach and your participation, we can stop the violence and change history.

Contributing Writer

This article was contributed to The Concordian by an outside writer. Questions and comments on this article should be directed to concord@cord.edu.

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