Submitted by Bob Ferguson
WASHINGTON STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL
I am the father of six-year-old twins. My wife, Colleen, and I want to raise a son who respects women and a daughter who lives in a world where she is respected and free from violence.
In September 2014, NFL football star Ray Rice’s assault on his then-fiancée, captured on video, received significant media attention and brought to national awareness the unfortunate prevalence of domestic violence in our society.
The statistics are sobering. An estimated one-in-four women experience rape, physical assault or stalking in the context of a relationship or a date.
The Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that 35 people were killed in Washington State last year as a result of domestic violence. Overwhelmingly, these tragedies are the result of men’s violence against women. They include the woman strangled and beaten by her boyfriend and the mother murdered by her daughter’s ex-boyfriend. These are our mothers, sisters, daughters and friends.
When violence against women makes the headlines, people often ask: “Why does she stay?” But this question wrongly places the burden on the victim. It is time to stop asking “why does she stay?” and instead ask “why is he violent?”
October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
I am committed to leading an office that works to eliminate violence against women. Our work with stakeholders has helped pass legislation to punish offenders and empower survivors. We dedicate grant dollars to local advocacy organizations that provide services to survivors in rural communities. Our work will continue.
We can all do our part. Speak up when someone tells inappropriate jokes or stories. If you learn your female friends or family members are experiencing violence, let them know you are there to help. Teach your children to respect themselves and others. Do not tolerate domestic violence.
Together we can make a difference for the women in our lives. When women live without fear, our whole society benefits.