Mercy holds open forum for domestic violence awareness
By KENNY KEANE, Globe staff reporter
Posted May 22, 2003
The Community Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV), part of the
Council on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence (CSADV), invited members of the
media to a reception on May 6 at Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City.
This open forum offered an opportunity to gather information about the
coalition's efforts to end violence in the Siouxland community, as well as hear
from individuals who are involved in and have been affected by domestic
Judge Pat McCormick, who has many years of experience hearing domestic
violence cases, was the keynote speaker. He started practicing law in Sioux City
in 1966, and he said back then the words domestic assault did not appear in any
legal or common jargon in the community.
He recalled one instance in particular back in the early '80s when a police
report came across his desk about a husband who had been picked up for
committing a crime.
"It came to my attention that what had occurred prior to the arrest for
some other crime - perhaps it was an OWI - is that he had beat up his wife quite
severely and put her in the hospital," McCormick said. "So I called
the chief, and I said, 'I don't understand why we don't have a request for
charges against this gentleman - if you want to call him that - for an assault
because he really hurt his wife.' He said, 'Well, we just do not ever ask for
any charges in a situation where there's a husband and wife involved because
that's a family situation, and we don't get involved in family situations.'
"I'm ashamed of the fact that I didn't go ahead and do what I thought
was right in that case, and that was to file charges against the husband for an
assault at that time."
Following the keynote address, Cathy, a survivor of domestic abuse, spoke of
"The abuse I suffered was verbal, emotional, physical and certainly
mental," she said. "The abuse didn't appear to start right away. It
was subtle, and he was skillful.
"Over time the physical violence started. After I was hit, I remember
feeling just shock and numbness, but he became so attentive and so loving as
though he hated what he did, too. I didn't realize then that this was part of
the cycle of behavior that abusers use to keep their victims confused and
After seeking help from what she called some "unfortunately uninformed
professionals" about this problem, she spoke with a therapist who finally
named the problem.
"He called it domestic abuse, and he called me a victim," Cathy
said. "That therapist suggested that I begin to consider calling the
police, and several incidences later I did just that. For me, that began my
process of empowerment.
"That officer gave me a card, and he said, 'There are people you can
talk to. They can help you.' I called, and I met with a victim advocate from the
Council on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. My life really began to change
from that moment."
The director of Mercy's Child Advocacy Center, Martha Burchard, said
educating people and showing support for organizations such as the CSADV are
important steps to help end domestic violence.
"Our biggest thing is that we continue to interact with community
agencies that deal with children and family issues, including the CSADV,"
she said. "Through the domestic violence coalition, our goal is to help
educate people on the need to be aware and to do whatever they can do in
whatever arena about the problem of domestic violence."