Effects of violence felt by audience

Three years ago, Holly Eichner thought she had found the perfect man when she started dating Tom.

For nine months, she was right.

But when Eichner was six months pregnant with his daughter, Tom dragged her across the kitchen floor, humiliating her and devastating the life she had built.

“I should have left,” Eichner said. “I didn’t.”

Eichner would be professionally crippled by Tom’s constant harassment, emotionally destroyed by constant threats to both her and her child’s life, and physically battered while he begged her to let him know “why do you make me do this to you?”

She shared her tragic story with an audience of shocked students Thursday night as part of Delta Chi Phi’s seminar “The Effects of Domestic Violence.”

The audience was surprised not only by the staggering violence Eichner endured, but the person telling it.

Eichner, an educated woman, did not seem to fit the image of a victim of domestic violence typically portrayed. Mary Ann Robinson, a deputy in the Wood County Sheriff’s Office with a 17-year history of combatting domestic abuse, quickly dispelled that myth. Robinson has worked with people of every race, wealth and level of education.

“Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate,” Robinson said.

The crime crosses gender lines as well.

Dee Kinney, a therapist and domestic violence advocate, dispelled the myth that men are seldom victims of domestic violence. According to Kinney, one out of 20 victims in reported cases of domestic violence are male, and that statistic is likely inaccurately low due to men being ashamed to admit they were abused.

Robinson addressed a stunned audience when she relayed the evidence of the hereditary nature of domestic abuse. Robinson said 64 percent of men raised in an environment of domestic violence will commit the same crime against their partner as an adult, and 74 percent of women brought up in the same sort of home will be a victim of that abuse.

Stories of parents excusing their children’s violence demonstrated the influence of family on the crime.

“Parents have told me, ‘if my son needs to knock around his wife to keep her in line, that’s none of your business,'” Kinney said.

Low self-esteem developing into a need to control their partner is frequently the cause of the violence inflicted by domestic abusers, Kinney said

This need leads abusers to become cyclical predators.

“Unless they move away or are put in jail, we will invariably see them with another victim down the line,” Kinney said.

Victims themselves, terrified by those closest to them, keep their suffering secret due to the shame caused by their abusers psychological demolition. Even after Tom tore at the stitches from the caesarean section performed at his daughter’s birth, Eichner kept her suffering secret.

Nationally, a woman being abused will move out and return to their violent partners an average of nine times, Robinson said.

Lifting the veil of silence imposed on victims by their abusers is one of the goals of the educational programs offered by Robinson through the Wood County Sheriff’s Office.

“It has to stop,” said Bianca Hutchinson, a founding member of Delta Chi Phi.

The sorority encouraged people interested in standing up to the wave of abuse to join them for a “Take Back the Night” march tonight at Lourdes College in Sylvania at 7 p.m.