Omaha advocates, experts speak on community impact of domestic violence

Those who help domestic violence survivors in Omaha say that high-profile cases shine a light on their services, but also can trigger victims.
Published: Dec. 1, 2022 at 10:02 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - When high-profile domestic abuse or assault cases hit the news, the impact is felt throughout the community.

“We have a lot of people reaching out to find out stats and things of that nature, like how often does this happen, how frequently does it happen,” says Jeanette Taylor, the President, and CEO of the Women’s Center for Advancement (WCA).

Following news of the former Husker football interim head coach Mickey Joseph’s arrest, Taylor says the phones at the WCA have been ringing a little more.

“It’s sad, but when it’s a high-profile case it actually brings more attention to the work we’re doing and that is helpful to us because it brings awareness to services that are available and things we’re trying to provide to survivors,” Taylor adds.

The WCA provides resources and legal services for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking.

Taylor says when big cases are on the news, it can be triggering for survivors.

“Sometimes it can trigger a trauma response in them because they’ve lived through that experience, sometimes they can feel as though now it’s something that’s important and when it was happening to me it wasn’t on the front page of the paper.”

“Most cases of domestic violence are things that are patterns of behavior over time,” says Nick Zadina, the project manager for Freedom from Violence - an initiative aimed at ending gender-based violence - with the Women’s Fund of Omaha. “One thing I always share when I train about domestic violence is that the core of domestic violence is not physical violence, it’s not sexual violence, it’s not controlling finances, at the core is power and control.”

Zadina says it’s important for conversations about domestic violence to happen more often than when there’s just a big case in the news because it’s more common than people think.

“What we know is that domestic violence is happening all the time, and a lot of times in domestic violence situations when these kinds of things happen, we know that what we’re hearing about in the news isn’t the first time this has happened,” Zadina adds.

“Power and control dynamics are happening all the time to people and it’s only when things related to that power and control get escalated to a point where it becomes something that’s a bigger crime that we hear about these issues.”

Zadina says there’s more we can do to prevent situations involving domestic violence, and that starts with kids.

“Something I think is connected to domestic violence that needs to be talked about more is comprehensive sex education. If we can teach kids about what it means to have a healthy relationship - because sex education isn’t just about sex, it’s about stuff like consent, how to handle getting rejected, how do I have a healthy relationship with somebody - if we can’t teach those things to ppl when they’re young, they’re not gonna have the tools to know when they’re perpetrating behaviors that are not healthy, or when they are in a relationship with behaviors that are not healthy because no one has told them.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, sexual assault, or human trafficking and needs support, resources from the Women’s Center for Advancement can be found here.

WCA’s crisis hotline is available 27 hours per day, seven days per week at 402-345-7273.