Domestic violence has been called "the hidden crime," but for some local officials, it's very present indeed.
Lt. Douglas W. Brenner of the Oneonta City Police Department said in an interview Friday that the department does not specifically track domestic violence calls, as information is not cataloged in those terms. But, speaking from experience, he said roughly one quarter of all calls answered by the Oneonta City Police Department concern domestic violence. This corresponds with nationwide figures from the Centers for Disease Control, which reported in 2000 that 1 in every 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
“Sometimes it is the same people calling us over and over again,” Brenner said. “Sometimes it is a new case. There have been a lot of changes to the way we handle these calls since I started in 1988. Used to be we would try to counsel them, talk to them. If the victim did not want to press charges, then there was nothing we could do. Now, if there is cause, we can make an arrest.”
Brenner said if there are visible bruises, scratches or marks of any kind that correlate to the story told by the people involved, then an arrest can be made. Sometimes the violence is mutual and both parties are arrested.
“We try to help the victim any way we can,” Brenner said. “If it is a bad situation, we will call OFO (Opportunities For Otsego). They are great at responding.”
In observance of October as Domestic Violence Month, Opportunities for Otsego has been hard at work to bring "the hidden crime" out into the light. One of the missions OFO's Violence Prevention Program is to educate people about intimate partner abuse. The program is constantly working on new ways to help people understand that individuals have the right to their bodies, but without consent, no one else has the right to touch them.