Problem is on par with the opiate epidemic and requires immediate attention, officials say

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Domestic violence in Waukesha County is a problem on par with the heroin and opiate epidemic, according to District Attorney Sue Opper, and solving it will require a sustained, community-wide effort.

Opper made those remarks during an event hosted by the Waukesha Women's Center on Oct. 17 at Cutler Park as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month's National Week of Action, Oct. 16-22.

Opper, Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly and Women's Center Executive Director Angela Mancuso spoke at the event, and all three described domestic violence – which includes physical, sexual and emotional abuse – as an immensely pervasive crisis.

"Domestic violence is a huge problem," Mancuso said,"and it's everyone's business. As a community, we must act collectively to help prevent domestic abuse before it starts and provide support to the women, men and children traumatized by this senseless crime."

Community impact

Opper said the impact of domestic violence on the Waukesha County community "is as large as the opiate problem," and added that working on domestic violence cases as a young assistant district attorney gave her a new appreciation for the rigors of her job.

Last year alone, her office reviewed on average 85 adult domestic violence cases each month.

Opper said she was reminded of the seriousness of the issue after being asked to speak at the Oct. 17 event and said she hoped to raise awareness of it.

The problem, much like the opiate epidemic, spans all ages, races, socioeconomic classes and cultures, Mancuso said.

"Each of us knows someone who has been affected by domestic violence," added Reilly, who also stressed the need for a community-wide effort to fight it.

'One-of-a-kind'

The problem is vast, officials said, but those suffering from it are not without help.

That's where the Women's Center, 505 N. East Ave., comes in.

Opper described the organization, which offers a wide array of programming to abuse victims and operates a confidential 24-hour support hotline, as "one-of-a-kind."

The center facilitated additional activities last week and promoted a social media campaign to remember homicide victims, honor survivors and raise awareness of the organization's programs.

Information about the daily events can be found on the center's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/thewomenscenterinc.

More information about the center can be found on its website at www.twcwaukesha.org or by calling 262-542-3828.

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