This week's state and local statistics on domestic violence were troubling, but they also contained signs of progress: At least the violence is being reported, and the abusers charged.
From 2008 to 2009, reported domestic violence incidents rose 25 percent in Nassau County, but arrests skyrocketed 58 percent. In Suffolk, reported incidents increased 2 percent, arrests 24 percent. The increases may be due in part to Rihanna and Jo'Anna.
After pop superstar Rihanna's boyfriend, musician Chris Brown, assaulted her, photos of her bruises were published widely. She dropped Brown, briefly reunited with him, then left permanently - going from cautionary tale to extraordinary example. More tragically, Jo'Anna Bird was murdered by ex-boyfriend Leonardo Valdez-Cruz after Nassau County police ignored orders of protection and failed to investigate previous violence complaints.
Rihanna's case shows victims that domestic violence can happen to anyone, and that refusing to stand for it pays dividends. Bird's case shows what happens when violence escalates and what follows when police don't take domestic abuse and orders of protection seriously enough.
Awareness is on the rise, victims are speaking up, and law enforcement is reacting. There's positive news in the numbers about a very disturbing problem. hN