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Sunday, May 11, 9:39 a.m.
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Domestic abuse rises as economy turns sour

Victim's hotline reports 1,000 calls more than expected

Since 2008, domestic violence has increased greatly compared to previous years, according to Members of the National Council on Family Violence, which believes the upturn is directly related to the fluctuating economy.

Family problems are occurring more, yet the money is unavailable to support the battle against domestic violence.

Since its inception in 1996, the National Domestic Violence Hotline has helped more than 2 million victims. Last year was a record year for the hotline, compared to the annual average. Each month in 2008, the service received an average of 1,000 more calls than usual.

“The increase is sad evidence that families are facing bigger challenges than ever before,” said Sheryl Cates, CEO of the hotline.

Carey Nason is the director of the University of Maine Safe Campus Project. She said involving support of friends and family helps diminish domestic violence.

“If you have a friend with what you believe is a problem, the best thing to do is to find a way to explain to them that it is unacceptable. The friends and family of the victim are the ones who will know when something is wrong,” Nason said. “The problem is the prevention of domestic violence is always coming from the standpoint of a victim, rather than the abusers. The way to put an end to domestic violence is to learn how to stop the abusers.”

The Safe Campus Project provides information and consultation regarding unsafe relationships. The project works with organizations helping to stop domestic violence, such as Spruce Run and The Law Project, both in Bangor.

Spruce Run is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to serving people affected by domestic violence. It offers a number of services for victims including a 24-hour hotline, advocates for information, various support groups, education and emergency shelter for victims in immediate danger.

Spruce Run also has Web site that offers phone numbers and resources to determine if someone may be the victim of domestic abuse. According to the site, the definition of domestic violence does not necessarily have to directly involve physical contact.

The Law Project assists victims with legal work. If the situation is past the point of being resolved with resources such as Spruce Run and legal action must be pursued. The Safe Campus Project works with this program to provide free legal counsel and services for low-to-moderate income families victims of domestic violence.