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Results of domestic violence survey released

Recently, the Southern Hilltowns Domestic Violence Task Force released the results of a survey with some surprising results. The survey on domestic violence showed that of the 326 residents surveyed, 96 percent of those responding acknowledge it's possible to abuse your partner or family member without resorting to actual physical violence. However, only 66 percent agreed that their fellow hilltown neighbors would agree with their assessment.

The survey targeted residents of the southern hilltowns during a five-month period in 2013. It also revealed another perception gap, as 85 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that "Abuse is never the fault of the person being abused," while only 54 percent believed others shared their view.

In 2008, the task force created Hilltown Safety at Home. The agency has provided assistance to roughly 60 survivors of domestic violence annually since it was opened. The task force coordinator is concerned about misconceptions community members may have regarding domestic violence issues in their area, as it may affect people's likelihood to reach out to others being victimized or feel it's their partner's right to exercise control of them.

One positive result is the majority of respondents didn't stand by idly when they witnessed incidents of violence between partners. Sixty-nine percent reported intervening in some way, and another 51 percent spoke out against the action.

When it addressed resources available to survivors, 74 percent were able to identify at least one place they could turn to for help in such a situation.

If you are trapped in a marriage where spousal abuse is occurring, you should report the abuse and then speak with an attorney experienced in divorce and family law. He or she may be able to provide you with advice on obtaining restraining orders and guide you along in the separation and divorce process.

Source: mass.live.com, "Southern Hilltowns Domestic Violence Task Force survey shows some lingering misperceptions regarding domestic violence in western Massachusetts hilltowns" George Graham, Jan. 10, 2014

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