(Bob Kinzel) Public Safety Commissioner Kerry Sleeper says it’s important to view the shootings in Essex on Thursday as an act of domestic violence and not as a school safety issue.
Officials say domestic violence is the leading cause of death for Vermont women. According to the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, there are over 13,000 acts of violence committed against women in the state every year. And nearly three-quarters of the victims are harassed at their place of work.
Sleeper says there’s no doubt in his mind that Vermont schools are a very safe place for children to be because he views the shootings in Essex as an act of domestic violence:
(Sleeper) “Schools are as safe as they can possibly be. The message today needs to be that we’re not immune from domestic violence and domestic violence touches all of us. And this is a clear case where it’s touched the entire state.”
(Kinzel) Chani Waterhouse is a public policy coordinator at the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. She’s urging victims to call a statewide hotline that’s open 24 hours a day to learn more about a variety of resources and support that are available.
Waterhouse says it’s important for victims to realize that suddenly leaving a violent relationship can often make matters worse:
(Waterhouse) “A really important point to emphasize is that victims and survivors – no matter what they do – you can’t guarantee their own safety. But there are things that they can do that may be able to help them stay safer. And I just want to emphasize safer. But there’s nothing that a victim can do that will guarantee [safety] because ultimately the choice is in the hands of the abuser.”
(Kinzel) The toll free domestic violence hotline number is
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.