Amidst all of the big news stories during these past two weeks, perhaps the one that has grabbed the most attention from Americans of all ages involved the mysterious disappearance of 22 year-old Gabrielle Petito, the young woman who had been on a cross-country trek in a van with her 23 year-old fiance, Brian Laundrie.
When Laundrie returned home in early September without Petito, and with no explanation as to where she might be, it was obvious that Ms. Petito — whose body was found this past Sunday in a camping area in Wyoming — had become yet another tragic victim of domestic violence in this country.
Despite all of the strides we have made to combat domestic violence since the 1980s, the fact remains that a woman in this country is in more danger from an intimate partner than from any other source. Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime in the United States.
The cold, hard statistics paint a grim picture:
— 1 in 4 women have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
— 1 in 7 women have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime.
— The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%.
— Women between the ages of 18-24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner.
That last statistic fits the profile of the relationship between Ms. Petito and Mr. Laundrie.
As this is being written, the authorities are searching for Mr. Laundrie, who disappeared early last week, according to his family.
The tragic death of Gabrielle Petito is yet another sad reminder of the pervasiveness of domestic violence in this country, a problem for which there appears to be no end in sight in our society.