JIM CREES: Be a snitch. Be a squealer. It’s good thing.

So … here’s the story.

Every year about this time I take a few inches of newspaper space to remind folks that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

And every year I write about it again.

The reason I write again ... and again ... and again, is because the situation isn’t getting any better.

There are a ton of guys out there still beating up their wives, girlfriends and kids and despite the best efforts of law enforcement officials and the judicial system, there just doesn’t seem to be a substantial change in the stats from year to year.

Now, I’d like to point out a couple things before the usual letter or two (or three or five) flow into my office.

When I write “guys beating up their wives …” I AM NOT ignoring the fact that there are men who are victims of domestic violence just as there are women.

But … let’s be realistic.

According to reporting by the Futures Without Violence organization:

  • Women are much more likely than men to be victimized by a current or former intimate partner. Women are 84 percent of spouse abuse victims and 86 percent of victims of abuse at the hands of a boyfriend or girlfriend. About three-fourths of the persons who commit family violence are male.
  • On average, more than three women a day are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in the United States.
  • Nearly one in four women in the United States reports experiencing violence by a current or former spouse or boyfriend at some point in her life.
  • Women ages 20 to 24 are at the greatest risk of experiencing nonfatal intimate partner violence.
  • So if you don’t mind, I’ll keep putting the emphasis on the women and kids getting beat up by the bully down the street or around the corner.

Another thing I’d like to point out is that I’m often reminded that I’m preaching to the choir — that people who read this newspaper, or any other for that matter, aren’t the kind of people who beat up their spouses.

Welllllllll … that isn’t necessarily so.

Despite what some people might want to believe, domestic violence occurs in homes and domestic situations across all economic, educational, ethnic, racial and religious lines.

It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white; rich or poor; a high school dropout or a university degree holder; a worker on the line or a teacher in some classroom; a churchgoer or a not; somebody you know is either getting beat up or is abusing their spouse.

It’s depressing.

I’ve heard a lot of stories, and the folks who work in counseling have heard and seen even more.

The respectable businessman man who thumps his wife for any and every convoluted “violation” of the house rules.

The boyfriend who sets “his woman’s” hair on fire in a jealous rage.

The guy, or guys, who feel it’s their right to get a little something extra on Homecoming night in direct relation to the amount of money they spend on the date.

Then there’s …

The woman who stopped in my newspaper office some years back to pick up the 50th wedding anniversary photo she had dropped off for publication a couple weeks before. Just a few days after the anniversary photo was printed in the paper her husband died.

When I expressed my condolences she responded: “That’s OK Jim. I’m finally free.”

Thinking that a strange response I invited her into my office and asked if everything was OK.

She answered with a story of 50 years of physical violence in the home — violence that no one knew about.

Not the neighbors. Not the kids. Nobody.

Except her pastor.

When she went to her pastor for counseling he told her that having her husband beat up on her on a pretty regular basis was her “cross to bear.”

She did for 50 years.

How sad.

Or … even closer to home.

Just before my mom died recently she told me that one of the reasons she married so young was in order to get out of the house.

Turns out my grandpa would go down to his local “watering hole,” get good and snockered, head home and pin my grandmother to her chair and beat her up.

I never knew this until both of them were long dead and my mom was nearing the end of her life.

How many family members, neighbors, fellow workers, club or fraternity members, church pew sharers, or backfence friends also don’t know … or don’t want to know?

Well … here are some numbers.

Nearly one-third of American women (31 percent) report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some stage in their lives.

And even more frightening …

One in five female high school students report being physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.

Forty percent of girls age 14-17 report knowing someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend.

A study of 8th and 9th grade girls in schools across the country found that 25 percent had been victims of unreported nonsexual dating violence and eight percent had been victims of sexual violence.

And …

In a nationally representative sample of Head Start programs serving low-income children ages 3-5, researchers found that 17 percent of the children surveyed had been exposed to domestic violence.

So there are the stats, or just some of them, for another year.

This year, however, I won’t close with the usual cry of “Somebody has to do something.” Such a generic plea probably has meant little in the past.

This year, I’m asking folks to put an end to domestic violence by getting involved.

If you know something is going on — tell someone.

Tell on your grandpa. Squeal on your uncle. Call the cops on the guy next door. Tell a teacher or counselor about abusive parents.

Be a snitch. Be a squealer.

It’s good thing.

The life you save may be that of your friend, your grandma, your mother, your sister, the woman next door, the lady that works in the grocery store, the girl two rows over in class.

Tell on the bully.

Ruin his life if you need to. He’s been ruining her life long enough.

Get involved.

How can you do anything else?

Getting the crap beat out of you isn’t a “cross to bear.”

It’s a crime.