Family violence offenders must be stopped. The community can help by speaking up.

SILENT WITNESS CEREMONY: Leiah Castro is helped by her father, Dean Castro, to light a candle for her grandmother, and Dean's mother, Anita Castro, who died in an act of family violence. The Castro family participated in a silent witness ceremony at the Latte of Freedom in Adelup in 2017. The ceremony included a proclamation declaring October Family Violence Awareness Month. Post file photo

The number of reported family violence cases this year is close to 300, which is nearly the total for all of last year and the year before.

For the vast majority of the cases, the alleged aggressors are husbands, boyfriends or adult children or other relatives who have anger issues that somehow they express by hurting people they're supposed to love, care about and respect.

Alleged alcohol or drug use or other forms of addiction such as gambling is the fuel for these bursts of rage, according to court documents filed against some of the defendants.

The victims in some of the cases have sought the help of the court by obtaining restraining orders to keep the alleged abusers away. 

In some cases, the defendants don't respect the court orders to stay away from their victims and continue to harm them.

In some cases, young children are caught in the crossfire.

In one recent case, an 8-year-old boy put himself in harm's way by removing a knife allegedly used to threaten his mother and hiding the weapon from his father.

In another case, the minor children of a mother who confronted her husband's alleged drug use were thrown out of the house along with their mother. And after they were kicked out of the home, the children saw their father allegedly throwing a chair that hit their mother, according to the prosecution, in court documents.

In another case, also recently, a grandmother was attacked when she tried to remove her grandchildren from witnessing the rage of their father whose anger was directed toward the children's mother.

Some of the family violence victims in previous cases have had to endure repeated physical injuries and emotional trauma before they were able to get out of the abusive relationships.

In some extreme cases of abuse, some of Guam's victims have been silenced by death. 

Let's not stay silent on the issue of family violence. Let's help victims get out, safely.

Let's help empower victims by encouraging them to develop skills and means to defend themselves and leave – so they can thwart attempts to be re-victimized. 

In many family violence cases, young, minor children get hurt, too, emotionally, physically or both.

It's unspeakable for children so young to experience and see the violence in their own homes.

The justice system needs to be tougher against violent offenders.

The revolving door system for abusers needs to be shut.

The community needs to speak up and make it clear that it's not OK to hurt someone. 

If you see something, say something. Help victims get to safety. And call the authorities.

Our silence can be deadly to a victim who's afraid to speak up.


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