My friend Laura told me a horrible story the other day. Her 33-year-old colleague Viviana Tellez-Giron was killed by her husband in a murder-suicide on October 4, during the first week of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The tragic irony of the situation is that Viviana worked as a volunteer for UNIDOS Against Domestic Violence, a not-for-profit organization in Madison, WI, that works to end domestic violence among Hispanic Americans.
"Viviana's death was so hard for us," Julie Anderson, UNIDOS' interim executive director, told The Capital Times. Such tragedies bring a flash of attention to the issue of domestic violence, she said, but UNIDOS is going to work to keep attention to the issue keen. "We want to create a community response. Domestic violence is a community problem, it needs a community response."
One in three American women will be domestically abused in her lifetime. But many of you are already familiar with this statistic. And many of you are already working to prevent domestic violence and other types of crime, as are we at NCPC. What struck me though about Viviana's death was that the tragedy occurred to one of our own. Viviana knew this statistic better than most victims of domestic violence and had been trained on how to prevent it. And yet, it wasn't enough to prevent her own death.
It made me realize that even those of us who work to fight and prevent crime every day are not immune to it. It reminded me that sometimes the most important training presentation we can make is the one we give at home. Who are the people in our own lives who might need to make changes in their lives to prevent becoming a victim? Have you taught the kids in your own house how to protect themselves from cyberbullies? Do your own parents know how to avoid becoming victims of telemarketing fraud? Can the homes and businesses in your own neighborhood benefit from the principles of CPTED?
That's what Viviana's death has taught me: that despite all the important work we do with strangers, crime prevention needs to begin in our own homes, families, and communities. How have you implemented crime prevention techniques and training in your home or community?
Some NCPC resources on preventing domestic violence: