The month of October is dedicated to spreading awareness about domestic violence. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women in the United States. Numbers show one in every four households have either physical or sexual abuse in the home. Now, the stress many are under from our current economic crisis may increase statistics. Diane Lomax, Director of Operations for the Open Gate Domestic Violence Shelter in Wilmington, said far too often she has to add yet another file to the hundreds of domestic violence cases she sees each year. Lomax said domestic violence is still a growing issue. “It's everywhere. It's at every socioeconomic level, it's every ethnicity, and it is everybody." Last year, the domestic violence shelter assisted more than 1100 women, children and in some cases men in New Hanover County alone. She said many others never come forward because they are too afraid to leave a bad situation. "There are many, many other people who are sitting and suffering in silence who are living this nightmare everyday," said Lomax. The shelter has seen an increase in battered women seeking help from the shelter in the past few months. Lomax believes money matters and our struggling economy may be tied to the spike in abuse cases. "We are all feeling the stress and strain of all of this, and while we have different coping mechanisms, an abuser typically reacts different," added Lomax. 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, the shelter is ready to provide emergency services, counseling and legal assistance to anyone in need. Lomax said it is up to the community to take a stand against domestic violence this month, and support those who come forward for help. "We can't continue to sit idly by and pretend like it doesn't exist, when we know that it does," said Lomax. Lomax noted that abuse is also becoming a problem for teenagers. Numbers are rising in cases of high school girls being abused by their dating partners. If you are a victim of domestic violence you can call the shelter at 910-343-0703.
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