AETN, Verizon recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October with special programming, events ‘Telling Amy’s Story’ to air Oct. 28, followed by crisis hotline

Nearly one in four women are beaten or raped by a partner during adulthood, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. This alarming statistic prompted the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) and Verizon to partner to address domestic violence in Arkansas through a special month of programming and events.

To address the issue, and provide critical resources and safety information to Arkansans, AETN will premiere “Telling Amy’s Story” on Thursday, Oct. 28, at 7 p.m. with a live domestic violence crisis line directly following the film from 8-9 p.m. “Telling Amy’s Story” is a one-hour film that chronicles the tragic death of Amy Homan McGee, a domestic violence victim, mother of two and former Verizon employee who was shot and killed by her husband.

“In the past 10 years, Arkansas has had an average ranking of ninth nationally for domestic homicides per capita, ranking as high as third for two years and first in deaths of African American women in 2002,” Jayne Ann Kita, executive director of the Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ACADV), said. “Reaching out to victims, providing resources and hope, and educating the public about the prevention of domestic violence are all vitally important to the state to help diminish this disturbing trend.”

Amy's story is told in large part by Detective Deirdri Fishel, who is a member of a unit in the State College (Pa.) Police Department that focuses on a coordinated response to reports of domestic abuse, including participation in the review of domestic violence homicides to find out what clues were missed, or what steps could be taken to stop a similar situation.

Immediately following “Telling Amy’s Story” will be an Arkansas domestic violence crisis line for victims and families who need help. The phone bank will include law enforcement agencies, attorneys, shelter representatives and other domestic violence advocates and experts who can address the concerns and needs of victims. Additionally, AETN has created a domestic violence resource website at www.aetn.org/domesticviolence.

“Domestic violence should not happen to anybody, but it does – and when it does, there is help,” AETN Executive Producer Carole Adornetto said. “AETN is providing that help following the film ‘Telling Amy's Story’ with a hotline that is toll-free, confidential and anonymous with experts who care and who can provide crisis intervention, information and referrals to victims of domestic violence, perpetrators, friends and families.

“We are committed to helping Arkansans whose lives are compromised by domestic violence.”

AETN has also partnered with the ACADV and Women and Children First to reach all corners of the state with potentially life-saving information. The ACADV is a nonprofit organization that works to eliminate domestic violence and promote healthy families, serving both rural and urban areas of Arkansas since its inception in 1981. Women and Children First empowers women and their children to live independently and free from domestic violence by providing crisis intervention, safe shelter, social/legal advocacy and support services.

AETN and the ACADV will mark the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, observed annually in October, with a screening of “Telling Amy’s Story” on the steps of the Arkansas State Capitol Friday, Oct. 8, at 2 p.m. Additionally, AETN will use the ACADV Clothesline Awareness Project, a visual display that bears witness to the deadly reality of domestic violence, as part of the live hotline program. The clothesline is hung with shirts decorated with written messages and illustrations that graphically represent all known female murder victims of domestic violence dating back to 1989.

“Telling Amy's Story" was produced and directed by Joe Myers, creative director at Penn State Public Broadcasting, and builds on a successful domestic violence prevention program at Pennsylvania State University. Through the program, Penn State has trained employees and students at more than 20 of the university's campuses to spot the signs of domestic violence and provide assistance to those in need. Both the training program and the documentary were funded by $385,000 in grants from the Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon.

Through the Verizon Wireless HopeLine program more than 7 million no-longer-used wireless phones have been collected and recycled or refurbished to support domestic violence survivors, generating $8 million that has been given to local agencies since 2001.

Verizon Wireless operates the nation’s most reliable and largest wireless voice and 3G data network, serving more than 92 million customers. Headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with 79,000 employees nationwide, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE, NASDAQ: VZ) and Vodafone (LSE, NASDAQ: VOD). For more information, visit www.verizonwireless.com. To preview and request broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.

The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) is Arkansas’s statewide public television network that enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. AETN delivers local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers. AETN depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. For more information, visit www.aetn.org, or follow the AETN blog at www.aetn.org/engage. AETN is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro), and KETZ (El Dorado).

Editor’s Note: For interviews with local domestic violence victims, advocates, law enforcement officials or representatives from “Telling Amy’s Story,” please contact Tiffany L. Verkler, 501-682-4157 or tverkler@aetn.org.

Arkansas Domestic Violence Facts at a Glance

What is Domestic Abuse?

The Arkansas law defines "domestic abuse" as physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury of assault, between family or household members, whether minors or adults, which constitutes a crime under Arkansas laws.

  • Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional and economic
  • Battering is a pattern of forcible control that one person exercises over another
  • Battering is behavior that physically harms, arouses fear, prevents an individual from doing what s/he wishes or forces them to behave in ways they do not want.
  • Battering includes the use of physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional abuse, and economic deprivation.

The Primary Goal of a Batterer

Gain complete power and control over their victim through the use of intimidation, coercion, violence or any means necessary to gain the victim's compliance.

The Cycle of Violence

Recurring behavioral phrase that includes:

  • Tension building phase
  • Incident or acute explosion phase
  • Reconciliation or Honeymoon phase

The Numbers

  • The number of confirmed domestic violence homicides in Arkansas increased from 15 during 2003 to 26 during 2006.
  • In 2001, Arkansas ranked #1 in the nation for domestic violence-related deaths among African-American women.
  • Approximately 1.3 million women are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States.
  • Domestic violence is primarily a crime against women. In 2001, women accounted for 85 percent of the victims of domestic violence, and men accounted for approximately 15 percent of the victims.
  • On average, four women are murdered every day by their male partner in the U.S.
  • Studies show that child abuse occurs in 30-60 percent of family violence cases that involve families with children.
  • Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44.

*Sources: Arkansas Coalition Against domestic Violence, U.S. Department of Justice, J.L. Edleson Violence Against Women