Tacoma tragedy shines light on Domestic Violence in our Community

Filed Under: Guest Blog,Uncategorized - Posted @ 3:19pm

The tragic event that occurred in Tacoma last week illuminated the very real issue of domestic violence and its impact on friends and neighbors in our communities. We hope you will take the time to read this blog, submitted by Miriam Barnett, the CEO of YWCA Pierce County.


Domestic violence ruins families and it devastates communities.  It happens every single day and yet is often not visible.  Sometimes it is because the media reports an incident but does not call it domestic violence.  We have to name it to claim it in order to do something about it. Awareness is power.

This week our community wept as a beloved officer was gunned down responding to a domestic violence call, the most dangerous calls police officers receive. In addition to the tragedy of losing Officer Gutierrez, a woman lost a husband and her two children lost a father. Even though he terrorized them, he was still their family. They also lost their home. And they are left to rebuild and heal outside of the spotlight with no source of income.  Our staff are devastated, both because of the horror that the victim and her children faced, but also because we work very closely with the Tacoma Police Department and are so grateful for our partnership. We lost a gentle soul, known for his ability to de-escalate tense situations.

The most lethal time for a victim is when they leave the home, when they escape from the relationship. The most lethal time for a police officer is when they arrive at the home. One leaves and is threatened with death. Another arrives and is threatened with death.  The abuser has to be in control of the situation no matter what the human cost is.

Domestic violence is a community issue.  No one is safe when a person becomes obsessed with power and control.  Sometimes it is emotional abuse. Sometimes it is financial abuse. Sometimes it is verbal abuse. Sometimes it is physical abuse.  Abuse is abuse, no matter what form it shows up as.

One in four. That is the statistic for domestic violence.  One in four women will be abused in their lifetime by someone who has professed to love them.

$5.8 Billion.  That is the amount spent annually on domestic violence related medical costs nationwide.

80%. That is the percentage of domestic violence victims that are more likely to suffer a stroke as a result of the violence.

  1. That is the number, just last year, of victims calling the YWCA Pierce County to seek safety in our shelter that we could not serve because the shelter was full. That is a sobering number and more than double from previous years.

It’s sobering and it’s a national epidemic.

The YWCA Pierce County has provided free comprehensive services to domestic violence victims and their families since 1976. Our shelter is currently being featured in the Cooper Hewitt Design Smithsonian in NY City because of the dignity it provides clients. We serve all genders and we allow clients to bring their pets with them to the shelter.

Our legal services empowers our clients to take control of their lives, helps them gain custody of the kids, keep their homes, and receive spousal support.

Our therapeutic Children’s Program helps break the cycle of generational violence by teaching children and teens about healthy relationships and positive ways to express anger.

Our Support Groups help turn victims into survivors and then thrivers by focusing on rebuilding self-esteem.

Together, as a community, we can overcome tragedies and heal our collective sorrow. 

It will take each of us and all of us to make a difference.  Silence hides violence.  If you or someone you know is being abused, please call our 24/7 hotline at 253. 383. 2593. The YWCA is here to help, to heal and to create a safer Pierce County.