Domestic violence still prevalent in Wisconsin

Fifty-five lives lost due to domestic situations in 2013

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Editors note: This story does not name those working at Family Support Center due to the organization’s safety policy.

Ying Xiong fatally strangled his wife, Panhia Vue, and then partially burned her body in a shed located on their property on June 10, 2013 in Altoona, according to the Wisconsin Domestic Violence Homicide Report. When investigators searched their bedroom, they found evidence that was consistent with a struggle.

 

According to the criminal complaint, the couple had past domestic problems. Xiong was charged with second-degree reckless homicide and mutilating a corpse, and pleaded guilty to both charges. He will spend 22 years in prison and 15 years on extended supervision.

 

In Wisconsin last year, 55 people died as a result of domestic violence, according to Wisconsin Domestic Violence Homicide Report, published by End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin just in time for October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

 

Panhia Vue was one of 39 victims of domestic violence homicide. There were also four cases of homicides by legal intervention and 12 cases of perpetrator suicide. The ages of victims range from 6 years old to 79 years old.

The Family Support Center in Chippewa Falls offers individual and group counseling for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

A Family Support Center domestic violence advocate, Lisa, said domestic violence doesn’t always happen between married couples, but also affects dating couples and same-sex couples. Domestic violence spans across age groups and socioeconomic groups.

“Statistically, one in three women and one in 15 men admits to being victims of domestic violence in their lifetime,” Lisa said. “In terms of campus I would think that those numbers would apply and maybe be higher.”

Jeni, the domestic violence program director at the Family Support Center, said a large percentage of their clients have experienced a serious sexual assault within their intimate relationships. She said this often comes in the form of being coerced into having sex, being threatened to have sex, being guilted into having sex or doing some type of sexual act.

 

Jeni said sexual assault in relationships happens incredibly frequently, and often isn’t looked at as part of domestic violence.

“Those controlling aspects of a relationship are sometimes structured as ‘normal’ parts of a relationship,” Jeni said. “Controlling who you are, or when you go out or who you see. Those are potentially red flags of a controlling relationship that aren’t necessarily physical violence but often can escalate to that over time.”

The Wisconsin Domestic Violence Homicide Report is structured to include anyone who was murdered as a result of domestic violence.

“I think it is a good thing,” Jeni said. “It forces us to look at not just victims, but also perpetrators and secondary victims and system workers who are hurt as a result of domestic violence.”

The Family Support Center has a 24-hour crisis line (1-800-400-7020) and Bolton Refuge House, which offers advocacy and support for survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, also has a 24-hour crisis line (1-855-526-5866).

“If somebody is in a violent relationship or has been in a violent relationship, it is not their fault and we are here to help,” Jeni said. “That help is led by what their needs are.”