Editorial: In the case of domestic violence, don't suffer in silence
A local New Canaan story has captured the interest of the country after Jennifer Dulos, mother of five young children, went missing over a month ago. As the search for Ms. Dulos continues, one’s hope for the best is struggling to win over fears for the worst.
It has been well-documented (and in some cases, unfortunately, salivated by some media outlets) that Ms. Dulos was going through a long, painful divorce process with her ex-husband. It has also been documented that she had expressed fear of her ex-husband during this process.
This is not the case where someone was quiet about what they were going through and what they feared — Ms. Dulos was very clear. Unfortunately, something went wrong. We don’t know what that is, or who was involved, but what we do know is her ex-husband has been charged with evidence tampering. We do know that five children and her mother are going through a terrible time. And we do know, by all accounts, Ms. Dulos was not a mother who would simply abandon her five children — two years and countless court records have left that legacy of dedication behind.
In towns like New Canaan and Darien where so many strive for, and often seem to achieve perfection, it can be hard to admit you need help. So when faced with a problem such as domestic violence, it is tempting to hide behind that veil of perfection and hope to ride it out, expecting things to get better. Because, often in this town, it can seem like it’s better to pretend than for others to know the truth.
Perhaps that’s why domestic violence remains one of the most underreported crimes against women. Because it can be very difficult to do what Ms. Dulos did — to pick up and leave with your children and start a separate household elsewhere. It can be scary both emotionally and in some cases physically.
Often, it can carry with it a shame or a guilt that is not associated with other crimes. It is also sometimes hard to define because of its many forms. Not all of them are physical or obvious. Abuse can just as easily come in the forms of demeaning words, of power plays and emotional manipulation.
It can make the victim feel responsible for keeping a family intact, for protecting a loved one, for maintaining a reputation in the community, and defending professional integrity — despite the situation not being of their making.
It also is a crime that can happen repeatedly — because of its nature.
- On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million people.
- One in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact sexual violence, intimate partner stalking involving injury, fearfulness, or post-traumatic stress disorder, and the use of victim services.
- One in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence — such as beatings, burning, strangling — by an intimate partner in their lifetime. *
The confidential 24-7 domestic violence helpline is 888-774-2900. For more information, visit the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence at ctcadv.org .
If you or someone you love is in an abusive situation, tell someone — call someone — help someone. Do it for all those suffering in silence. Do it for Jennifer Dulos — and say a prayer for her and her family that somehow, some way, they are able to finally find some peace.
* Source: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence