Community Spotlight: Domestic Violence

UWM joins community efforts to spread domestic violence awareness in October

Often overlooked or misunderstood, domestic violence is a community health issue that impacts one in three women and one in seven men in our metro. Last year local organizations received more than 11,000 calls related to domestic violence and provided over 17,000 services to support survivors.

While domestic violence causes physical and emotional health issues, those who experience domestic abuse and other similar traumas throughout their childhood are also twice as likely to develop heart disease and on average die 20 years earlier than those who are not impacted by these traumas.

That is a community health crisis in our book, and it’s why we help fund programs at local agencies including Women’s Center for Advancement, Catholic Charities and Heartland Family Service. These agencies work every single day to support individuals to safely get out of abusive situations and regain confidence and control of their life.

“Change starts with awareness. When our community understands domestic violence and its impact on individuals and those who witness it, we can work together to help survivors get the support they need.”


Heather Tomczak, UWM Director of Community Impact

The Challenges:

Why is domestic violence such a difficult issue to resolve? Let’s take a look at some of the challenges that hold families back from finding the supports they need to leave.

  • Most incidents are never reported.
  • A person’s risk of being killed greatly increases when they try to leave their abuser.
  • Domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness among families.
  • Nearly 20 percent of domestic violence involves a weapon.
  • Violent partners may monitor or restrict spending and access to food, healthcare, family and friends and transportation.
  • Abusers may threaten to or intentionally hurt children or pets if their partner tries to leave or doesn’t do what they want.
  • In today’s age of technology, it’s easier than ever for abusive partners to track someone’s every move and what they do online.
    • This can impact a person’s ability to look for resources or find someone who can help.

Sources: National Network to End Domestic Violence, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

United Way of the Midlands and Women’s Center for Advancement experts weigh in on domestic violence in the metro and what groups are doing together to keep families safe.


Our Trauma-Informed Community: A National Example

In 2016, Mayor Jean Stothert declared Omaha to be the first of its kind: a trauma-informed city. The goal is to ensure that 22,000 people, including first responders, law enforcement, media and professionals in child welfare, health care and education will receive training to recognize and respond appropriately to individuals who experience trauma such as domestic violence.

For example, someone who is trauma-informed will ask:

“What happened to you?” Not, “What’s wrong with you?”

United Way of the Midlands is supporting the community effort to ensure trauma-informed care is a priority in the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro and to reduce residents’ ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) score.

An ACE score is determined from the ACE survey, which asks 10 yes or no questions around experiencing trauma such as domestic violence in the home as a child. The more questions a respondent answers yes to, the higher their risk of experiencing chronic health conditions, early death and risky health behaviors such as drug or alcohol abuse. More than 70 percent of American adults have at least one ACE.

Curious about your ACE score? Take the survey:

Get Help Today

Women’s Center for Advancement

24/7 Hotline: 402-345-7273

Heartland Family Service

24/7 Hotline: 800-523-3666

Catholic Charities

24/7 Hotline: 402-558-5700

Catholic Charities Des Moines

24/7 Hotline: 712-328-0266


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