Local News

Government Report Shows Domestic Violence is a Growing Problem

Posted November 17, 1998

— The only thing that may be keeping you from becoming the victim of a crime is time. Women are especially vulnerable. Conventional wisdom tells you that. New statistics make the threat even more real.

Astudy releasedby the federal government Wednesday says half of all women will experience some kind of physical violence. What makes this number even more real is that we only have to look as far as our backyard to see it happening.

Betsy Wiggs, 76, of Apex, never imagined she would end up in a hospital bed battered and bruised. But what is even harder to comprehend is that investigators say her 17-year-old grandson, James Wiggs, is responsible for Monday's beating.

"Well, my grandson beat me," says Betsy Wiggs. "He put a gash in my head."

Tuesday night, another domestic violence incident sent waves of panic through a Cary grocery store parking lot.

Alfred Williams, 62, was arrested after investigators say he threatened his ex-girlfriend with a shotgun.

"He went to the trunk of his car and pulled out a 20-gauge shotgun. At that time, he started waving it around, but then he pointed the shotgun at her, threatened to kill her again and then fired one round into the air," said Cary Police Lt. Steve Lee.

"If 50 percent of the world had cancer, we's be putting a lot of money into curing cancer," says Amy Holloway, a domestic violence counselor.

Domestic violence counselors say awareness and education are the keys to lowering the number of victims.

"We need to take it seriously," Holloway says. "It has far-reaching implications for all social issues in our society and we have to take it seriously. It's everywhere."

Both Wiggs and Williams are in jail and have been charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

Wiggs has also been charged with kidnapping and robbery. He is being held on a $205,000 bond.

The same report has some shocking information when it comes to rape. Nearly 18 million women -- that's one out of every five women -- has been raped or the victim of an attempted rape. Nearly half of the victims say it happened before they turned 17.

Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala says every number represents a daughter, mother and neighbor.


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