Charlie Sheen Arrest Highlights Domestic Violence Epidemic

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Charlie Sheen, star of CBS’s Two and a Half Men, was taken into custody in Aspen, Colorado, on Christmas day on suspicion of charges related to domestic violence, according to the Associated Press. Sheen and his wife, Brooke Mueller Sheen, were married in May 2008 and have twin boys. Police arrested 44-year-old Sheen after they responded to a 911 call about a domestic violence incident.

Domestic violence is an epidemic in the United States. One in every four women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime, according to the National Institute of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and an estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical abuse by an intimate partner each year. Although it is an epidemic that can affect both sexes, 85 percent of domestic violence victims are women.

The National Coalition against Domestic Violence notes that this epidemic affects “individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background.” Domestic violence against women “is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior,” and it typically “results in physical injury, psychological trauma, and sometimes death.”

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It is not unusual for celebrities to be in the news regarding domestic violence. Another recent case involved Chris Brown and his pop star girlfriend Rihanna, who spoke out in many television interviews about her experiences. Other celebrity victims of domestic violence have included Halle Berry, Madonna, Tina Turner, and Brooke Satchwell.

Some celebrities are also campaigning to help stop domestic violence. Reese Witherspoon, for example, recently appeared before members of Parliament in London to raise awareness of the problem that affects people all around the world. A number of celebrities have come together to create the National Domestic Violence Hotline Celebrity Board, which was established in 2008 to help change public attitudes that permit domestic violence to continue in society.

Some of the celebrities that have made personal commitments to the hotline (800-799-SAFE) include Michael Bolton, Victor Rivers, Camille Winbush, Patricia Arquette, Salma Hayek, Martina McBride, Robin Givens (a domestic abuse survivor), and Greg Behrendt, among others. Both Camille and Martina work with the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline.

The latest incident of domestic violence attributed to Martin Sheen is yet one more wake-up call to the epidemic. The crime of domestic violence will likely never go away, but it can be significantly reduced with increased awareness of the problem and with opportunities for its victims to have access to safe, effective help. The fact is that most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police. Victims of domestic violence are afraid of further attacks, of being embarrassed, of having no safe place to go. Thirty to 60 percent of perpetrators of intimate partner violence also abuse children in the household. All of these are very real issues that need to be addressed before we can hope to see an appreciable decline in domestic violence cases.

SOURCES:
Associated Press
National Coalition against Domestic Violence
National Domestic Violence Hotline
National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline

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