HOUGHTON - It's a growing problem, and one that often goes unreported and unnoticed.
Domestic violence is on the rise in the United States, as 36 percent of women and 29 percent of men have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner. These statistics, reported in the 2010 National Intimate Partner Study published by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are certainly distressing, and the only way to break the cycle is to address the root causes of aggression and violence, according to Dial Help's Kevin Weir.
"Violence and abuse is more prevalent than we think it is," said Weir, who is the behavioral education coordinator for Dial Help. "We need to reduce the level of violence in our society, especially when it's experienced by children."
Teaching children the right way to handle anger and adversity is important, said Weir, who also facilitates anger management and domestic violence intervention programming.
"Half of women physically abused have children in the home under the age of 12," he said. "Children that witness violence in the home are more likely to blame themselves, grow up learning that violence and aggression are acceptable towards themselves and others, have lower cognitive functioning, become victims of child abuse, turn to alcohol or drugs, suffer from anxiety and depression, and commit suicide."
Violent behavior doesn't necessarily always involve abuse. Any behaviors of uncontrolled anger and violence are dangerous, according to Weir.
"With violence, most people only think of hitting," Weir said. "It can also involve loud yelling, slamming doors and throwing things - these are all violent acts, too.
"These have an impact on children," he continued. "That's how children learn that (violence) is an acceptable way to solve problems, and it's really not."
For those who are victims of domestic abuse, there is help available with the Barbara Kettle Gundlach Shelter at 337-5623. If a child is being abused or neglected, the best way to report it is by calling the Michigan Protective Services Hotline toll-free at 1-855-444-3911.
Yet the victims are not the only ones who need help. Domestic violence intervention and anger management programs are available for those doing the abusing or coping with anger issues.
"Help is available; whether someone chooses to do that or not, however, is up to them," Weir said. "It involves taking a hard look at your own life and saying 'I have a problem.'
"Most people enter our programs by court order, but it doesn't have to be," Weir added. "Anger management can be voluntary, and it is likely to reduce their anger."
Outside of classes, there are some simple steps to take to attempt to control anger issues, Weir said. They include reducing overall stress levels, deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, regular physical exercise and responsible self-care practices such as adequate sleep, healthy nutrition and having some fun.
"Our fates are not fixed," Weir said. "Change is possible, help is available and tomorrow does not have to be just like today."
For more information about anti-violence intervention programs, call Dial Help at 482-9077.