Domestic violence is one of the most pervasive issues plaguing the nation. According to estimates by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCAD), a women is assaulted or beaten every nine seconds in the United States.
What’s even more terrifying and sad is that this estimate is on the low side. Chances are that episodes of brutal violence against women happen even more frequently. NCAD also reported in 2012 that only 25% of all physical assaults, 20% of all rapes, and 50% of all stalking perpetrated against females by their partners were reported to the police. In the few cases that do get reported, a woman will be assaulted by her partner or ex-partner an average of 35 times before reporting it.
Like an iceberg, only a small portion of the mammoth problem is visible. Little is seen, and even less is done. Case in point, Whitney Wood, the face of a public service announcement, says the Memphis police didn’t take her situation seriously until she appeared in the 35-second spot.
This past November, police finally filed an aggravated assault charge against her ex-husband Shawn Graves, about three years after she told officers he threw into a wall and strangled her until she lost consciousness in January 2013, the Commercial Appeal reports.
Louis Brownlee, a spokesperson with the Memphis Police Department, told the Associated Press in an email that the charges weren’t initially filed because of a miscommunication between the victim and the investigator. Though Wood believes her involvement in the public service campaign triggered a stronger police response, District Attorney General Amy Weirich said politics “absolutely” did not play a role.
“People know that it’s not OK to hit women. Right?” Wood said. “People know that it’s not OK to rape women. But what they also know is it’s not likely that they’re ever going to face any consequences for it.”