The vigil for domestic violence on Thursday, Oct. 19, at the Denham Springs Police Department provided a sobering reminder of the grim statistics across Louisiana, along with the need for greater attention to what is a silent epidemic.

A study by the Violence Policy Center ranked Louisiana third in the nation on the number of women killed by men.

The Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence stated 450,000 women in Louisiana will experience domestic violence at some point in their lives, while nearly 100 children lose a parent to domestic violence homicide each year.

Keep in mind those are only the cases reported to authorities. Many more cases remain under the radar, often out of fear of retaliation by the perpetrator.

Abusive behavior comes in all socioeconomic backgrounds. Much of it stems from learned behavior the perpetrator sees during childhood.

Some cases are linked to drugs or alcohol, and others can be traced to economic hardships, such as stress from a job loss.

It’s one of the tougher areas of enforcement for police officers, either because of a lack of evidence or because the victim seeks to protect the perpetrator.

Victims face a huge battle when it comes to seeking shelter from the perpetrator. In Louisiana, only 15 battered women’s shelters operate across the 64 parishes – and all stay filled to their capacity.

Programs offered through the state will offer temporary shelter in hotels, along with housing. Once again, it comes with a long waiting list and very limited resources.

The United Way, faith-based organizations and private partnerships have helped make more shelters available, but plenty of work remains.

It’s time for the state to step up its efforts against domestic violence.

Louisiana has been at the forefront of many unflattering statistics, but the high ranking for domestic violence may be the most embarrassing for the state.

A change in this trend is long overdue.

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