Special Reports

Abusers must be held accountable, experts say

Everyone can help prevent domestic violence, Pierce County advocates said Thursday.

"We need all of our community to take domestic violence seriously and to take attitudes that promote safe and healthy families," said Ann Eft, director of the Pierce County Commission Against Domestic Violence, a government-sponsored regional coordinating group.

Individuals, businesses, institutions and governments all have roles to play, said Alisa Velonis, a Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department prevention specialist.

"Domestic violence is never the fault of the victim and we must reinforce that message. We also (must) hold abusers accountable," she said.

Speaking specifically about Tacoma, Eft outlined five steps needed to improve how the city deals with domestic violence. She suggested that city officials:

•Learn about the danger signs of abusive behavior that can lead to violence.

•Set up protocols regarding domestic violence among police and city employees.

•Explore ways municipal court can hold offenders accountable.

•Provide court-based advocates for victims of domestic violence.

•Lead community efforts to eliminate tolerance of domestic violence.

Eft said the commission plans a series of public meetings on domestic violence at six locations around Pierce County. Sessions will be held at The News Tribune, the Pierce College campuses in Puyallup and Lakewood, Bates Technical College, Tacoma Community College and the Gig Harbor civic center.

Dates for the meetings have not yet been set.

Susan Gordon: 253-597-8756