by Melissa Brunner
It doesn't seem like a very long time, but think of all that can unfold. Think of the number of armed robberies, assaults, domestic violence incidents, abuse reports and shootings we might tell you about in a given week. Kansas authorities continue searching for a man they believe injured a woman and killed two others in a domestic-related shooting earlier this month. Last week, we reported all-pro NFL running back Adrian Peterson's two-year-old son was killed, allegedly at the hands of an abuser.
Imagine one week without any such reports. That's seven days; 168 hours; 10,080 minutes; 604,800 seconds. Without violence.
The YWCA Week Without Violence encourages you to envision such a world. The annual event is this week. It's stated goal is to raise awareness, specifically of sexual and domestice violence in our communities, and how we all play a role in stopping it. I also prefer to take a wider view, striving to stop all violent crime in our communities.
Violence can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Criminals who want to find a victim badly enough will find a way to do do, but it is encumbent upon all of us to do all that we can to lesson the chance we or our neighbors will become that victim.
The Adrian Peterson situation certainly illustrates how no one is immune from having violence touch their lives. While we mourn the tragic loss of his son, let's also consider this: According to the Child Welfare League of American, in 2010, Kansas had 32,377 referrals for child abuse and neglect, 17,379 of which were referred for investigation.
From those numbers, 1,552 Kansas children were abused or neglected - 22.3% neglected, 22.3% physically abused, 34.6 percent sexually abused. Six of those children died.
It doesn't stop there. The Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence says nearly one in five women will be raped in their lifetime. In 2007, 10.1% of adult females in Kansas reported domestic violence victimization - that's 106,419 victims.
Need more numbers? The Kansas Bureau of Investigation's 2012 crime statistics report shows 10,207 violent crime offenses reported in Kansas last year. Among those were 91 murders; 1,067 rapes; and 7,539 aggravated assaults/batteries.
Odds are that violence has affected someone you know. Survivors of violence don't wear big, bright identifying badges, but their faces are those of your family, friends, neighbors and coworkers.
Changing those numbers involves all of us. We cannot hide behind closed doors and hope the criminals will simply bother someone else. For starters, living in fear is no way to live, but, also, the numbers show that often the violence is happening behind those closed doors.
Imagine if, for at least one week, it didn't.
The YWCA of Topeka will hold its annual March to End Domestic Violence at noon Friday. It leaves from the south side of the Statehouse and marches to the YWCA building at SW 12th and Van Buren. For details about the Week Without Violence, visit www.ywcatopeka.org.