It may neither lessen nor compound the awful grief felt by each victim’s survivors. But it should matter to the community that Antonia Woods-Cratic wasn’t the first or the fifth but the 10th person to die of domestic violence in Wichita this year. That death toll is unacceptable, as is the reality that domestic violence is such a growing problem that local shelters must turn women away.
Police point to increasing numbers of women being stabbed, choked, beaten and threatened with guns, and of less-violent but still dangerous cases characterized by shoving, arguing, vandalism and threats.
And as an article by Tim Potter in the Sunday Eagle emphasized, the victims often include children. Even if they escape physical injury themselves, the wounds that come with witnessing such conflict are real and slow to heal.
Police say that three of Woods-Cratic’s nine children saw her gunned down Nov. 12, allegedly by her husband, Kishen Woods.
And sometimes the children are the ones who die — as happened in August, when 6-year-old Reimy Rivera became Wichita’s sixth victim of domestic-violence homicide, allegedly at the hands of her mother’s ex-boyfriend.
The community needs to stand up for these victims and mobilize against this threat by, among other things, supporting the work of the YMCA Women’s Crisis Center, the Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center, Catholic Charities Harbor House and StepStone.
To their credit, those organizations have come together with a “No More” campaign to include community forums and other efforts at raising awareness, empowering victims and increasing funding for prevention and intervention services.
In its most recent report, the Governor’s Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board, chaired by Sedgwick County District Judge Harold Flaigle, also called for school districts and employers to do more to identify and counter domestic violence, and for the development of safe local centers for visitation and exchange of children of separated or divorced parents. Given that many of the perpetrators and victims have multiple contacts with law enforcement and other agencies before the murders occur, it also stressed that offender accountability and victim safety depend on authorities sharing information.
As the report concluded: “Early identification, appropriate intervention and preventative education can make the difference.”
Given that Wichita saw a total of six domestic-violence homicides last year and it’s at 10 and counting this year, shrugging off this deadly trend isn’t an option for the community.
For the editorial board, Rhonda Holman