Finding help in your hour of need | Editorial

Domestic violence is one of those uncomfortable, difficult to discuss issues.

Unfortunately, the topic is front and center in this week’s edition of the Sounder with two local criminal cases.

A Friday Harbor woman was violently killed last week, and her husband of 25 years has been charged with two counts of second degree murder and malicious mischief. All of the charges are classified as domestic violence.

An Eastsound man has been accused of assaulting a woman who had a no-contact order against him. He allegedly came into her home and punched her in the face. All of the charges are classified as domestic violence.

These two men are innocent until proven guilty, but the incidents shed light on the seriousness of domestic abuse. It can be physical, emotional, sexual or economic, and without intervention, it can end in serious physical harm.

Here are some warning signs. Does your partner ever: Make all your decisions? Try to control who you can see, where you can go or who you can talk to? Embarrass you with put-downs? Control your money? Tell you you’re a bad parent or threaten to take your children away? Tell you the abuse is your fault or in your own mind? Destroy your belongings or threaten your pets? Threaten to commit suicide or to kill you? Push, hit, slap or choke you?

If you answered “yes” to any one or more of these questions, you could be in an abusive relationship. SAFE San Juans (formerly known as Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services of the San Juan Islands) offers free, confidential help. Trained advocates can answer questions about your experience, discuss what abuse looks like and help you take action if you want. It just expanded its social service case management and other services for youth and young adult clients ages 13 to 23.

The 24 Hour Crisis Lines are: San Juan, 378-2345, Orcas, 376-1234 and Lopez, 468-4567.

We are deeply saddened by this year’s increase of assault, murder and sexual abuse in our county. If you or someone you know is at risk – even if it seems minor – please seek help.