Editorial: Change will follow with new focus

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 29, 2005

As details of the death of Tammy Hughes came out, allegedly shot by her estranged husband in a domestic dispute last week, Albert Lea residents went into shock. Many who knew the couple grieve her loss, feel great sadness for the children who essentially lost both parents, and are angry that such a crime still happens.

It’s frustrating to note that locally 127 orders for protection were sought to protect individuals from abuse in 2004. And statewide, approximately 22 women and children died, the result of domestic violence last year.

As the Tribune covered the news, we knew it was important to be sensitive to the woman’s memory as well as her family and offered information to others in similar situations.

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But rarely does the media, or others focus on the problem: the abuser.

If society identified the source of the problem &045; people who haven’t learned better ways to resolve conflict or treat others with respect &045; and worked to educate them, perhaps we could stop this incidious cycle.

Of course, it takes money and money has been in short supply recently for many programs, including those which help families &045; frequently women and children &045; get out of abusive relationships.

However, to stop harm and in some cases death, we must start with the abuser. We must focus our education and awareness efforts, as well as money, on teaching healthy conflict resolution options. Though we must start with the young, we cannot overlook the adults who would benefit from such programs.

Legislators must empower the courts with the ability to send those who abuse to programs designed to help them stop their abusive behaviors.

Until society focuses on the abuser, little is likely to change and the ripple affects will touch everyone.