Aisha Fraser and Tamara O’Neal were murdered within three days of each other.
One was a devoted Emergency Room Physician in Chicago.
One was a dedicated Elementary School Teacher near Cleveland, Ohio.
Both were described as being committed to helping and serving others.
Both of their deaths were attributed to what some call “the silent epidemic” — domestic-violence.
“Silent” because many of us are unaware of it, until it touches us personally. I urge you to not wait until it becomes personal but to be proactive. Now is the time to speak up and take action.
According to the Violence Policy Center, three women in the United States are murdered every day by a current or former romantic partner and when men murder women, 93 percent are killed by someone they know. (Aisha’s alleged killer is her ex-husband. Tamara’s alleged murderer is her ex-fiance)
Statistics on the National Domestic Violence Hotline website show that more than 12 million women and men are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner annually in the United States and that:
- 1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) aged 18 and older in the United States have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
- More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the United States have experienced various forms of domestic violence in their lifetime.
- Women ages 18 to 24 and 25 to 34 generally experienced the highest rates of intimate partner violence.
- Most female victims of intimate partner violence were previously victimized by the same offender, including 77% of females ages 18 to 24, 76% of females ages 25 to 34, and 81% of females ages 35 to 49.
Does that alarm you? If it doesn’t, it should.
Combing through those statistics and many more (including the fact that five million children are exposed to domestic violence every year), I was reminded that Domestic Violence is an insidious problem deeply rooted in our culture. (Aisha’s daughters, ages 8 and 11, witnessed the brutal beating of their mother four years ago by their father and were again traumatized when witnessing her murder at the hands of the same alleged perpetrator).
I am incensed and I want to see a system put into place that protects those who need to be protected.
October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s theme was #1Thing, accompanied by a challenge for each person to do just “one thing” to end Domestic Violence. It is clear to me that we need to continue doing our part each day.
If you don’t know what to do, I suggest beginning by raising your awareness – the hotline’s website (www.thehotline.org) is a great place to start.
Here are some other suggestions: know the warning signs; don’t ignore the warning signs; listen without judgement, if someone confides in you; keep the numbers to a nearby shelter and National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233) in your phone; be available to help someone in need; assist a local shelter or domestic violence organization; advocate for victims of domestic violence.
Family and friends of Aisha and Tamara will gather on Friday for visitation, continue to pray for them (and add a special prayer for Audrey and Ava, Aisha’s daughters).