The information from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence is shocking: From June 22 to last Tuesday, July 15 — a span of 23 days — 13 counties in Pennsylvania experienced 24 domestic violence related deaths.
Twenty-four deaths in almost as many days. Sadly, a garish number like this is something the Domestic Violence Service Center is all too familiar with.
“In 2006, 40 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties experienced domestic violence fatalities,” said the center’s Executive Director Paula Triano. “Of the 127 domestic violence related deaths in the state, Luzerne County claimed eight. That’s a large number — domestic violence homicides were almost half of the homicides that year in the county.”
This Thursday July 24, Women Who Rock III, a benefit for the DVSC, will be held at the River Street Jazz Café. The event, sponsored in part by The Weekender, is hosted by female members of the media. It features a raffle courtesy of Magpie and music by Janet of M80, Leighann Burk with Y.M.I., Phyllis Hopkins, k8, Storm, Maria DuBiel, Shannon Marsyada and Jeanne Zano.
Weekender General Manager and DVSC board member Rachel A. Pugh had a simple reason for creating the event three years ago.
“I was trying to think of a way that could bring awareness to the public about the DVSC while also celebrating women,” she said. “Due to me working for the Weekender and being involved in the entertainment scene, I figured this would be a good idea for an annual fundraiser and form of education for NEPA.”
DuBiel, who played last year, sees the event as more than just a gig.
“I think it’s a great opportunity basically to make people in the community more aware of a really serious problem that exists with domestic violence,” she said. “If people sat down for five minutes and looked at statistics on this situation, they’d be amazed.”
Some statistics put out by the DVSC include:
• Battering is the single largest cause of injury to women and battery by a spouse is responsible for more injuries than car accidents, rapes and muggings combined.
• A battering incident occurs every nine seconds in the United States, 4-6 million women are beaten each year and 4,000 are murdered.
• Murder is the No. 1 cause of death among pregnant women, who are usually killed by an intimate partner.
• Domestic violence is the leading cause of homelessness for women and children in the country.
• The majority of domestic violence homicides occur when a woman tries to leave.
The DVSC, which began in 1976, serves Luzerne and Carbon counties and provides 30-day emergency shelter for women and children and one-year transitional housing for homeless and battered women and children. It also offers a 24-hour hotline, which receives an average 450 calls monthly, legal advocates to help with Protection From Abuse filings and medical advocates at hospitals and behavioral health facilities. The center educates and trains in domestic violence prevention, helps teach life skills and budgeting and also helps clients go through school or find jobs so they can become self-sufficient.
Last year, the center assisted 1,784 clients and counseled for 6,133 hours. There were 4,582 total shelter days for 135 women and 98 children. And the DVSC does this 24 hours a day with a staff of about 25, plus volunteers.
“People don’t realize everything that we do here,” Triano said.
The DVSC gets most of its funding from the government. And though fundraising makes up about 4 percent of the organization’s budget, it does help supplement the center’s operations and services for the women and children.
Triano hopes that people who attend Women Who Rock on Thursday will walk away with more than just a great night of music.
“Just that they know our agency, to know we’re there, to know what our services are, to know that we’re there to help battered women and children,” she said. “To make the community realize that abuse, usually behind closed doors and kept quiet, shouldn’t be tolerated.”
Pugh also hopes that the strong message of the evening will not only be entertaining but inspiring to those who attend.
“The musicians are there for an important cause and to root for women and women’s strength. Anyone who believes this is an important message will have fun celebrating it.”
“It hits home with a lot of people and I think once you start talking to people, many people know someone, a relative or a friend, who’s been in a situation. It’s touched a lot of lives.
“I think it’s important that people realize there is an organization out there, even if not for themselves, that can direct them to say that they don’t have to stay in that situation. That there is hope.”
What: Women Who Rock III benefit for Domestic Violence
Who: Janet of M80, Leighann Burke with Y.M.I., Phyllis Hopkins, k8, Storm, Maria DuBiel, Shannon Marsyada, Jeanne Zano
Where: River Street Jazz Café, 665 N. River St., Plains
When: Thursday, July 24,
doors 6:30 p.m., music at 7 p.m.
Tickets: $10 advance by calling 570.823.6799, ext. 221
$12 at door