Speak Out for Domestic Violence Awareness

Speak Out for Domestic Violence Awareness

Domestic violence often goes unnoticed, shrouded by pretenses at the surface level. The fact of the matter is that domestic violence is the number one killer of women worldwide. Does this staggering figure scare you? It should.

“Globally, 6 women are killed every hour by someone they know,” says Heidi Markow of Beginning Over Foundation and TruthtotheMasses.com. “And last year 87,000 women around the world were murdered and more than half of them were by their intimate partners. Not from being hit by a car, it’s by someone they love, or someone that loves them, or someone they know.”

Markow knows these troubling waters all too well. She’s spent 15 years on the frontlines, supporting victims of domestic violence. Moreover, she suffered through it herself during her first marriage and suffered the devastating loss of her sister, Robin D. Shaffer, back in 2005, at the hand of Shaffer’s estranged husband.

For years, Markow’s been an advocate for victims of domestic violence. But now, she’s planning to take it a step further.

“I am starting Truth to the Masses with Heidi Markow,” she says of her new quest of speaking engagements and advocacy. “People need to know the truth in a respectful, honorable way that will honor the dignity of these women who are going through it. I’m choosing to go on my own because that is what needs to be done to make a change. I have a big story to tell and with that story comes quite an education and I just think that it’s time for that.”

Markow says the most important thing she wants people to know is that victims are losing and that respectfully, we are stuck in the status quo. By losing, she’s referring to false allegations from their abusers, and in particular, victims losing custody of their children because the court system and Child Protective Services failed them due to those false allegations, mistakenly giving full custody to the abuser.

“Most women do not file for Protection From Abuse (PFA) orders and that is because they are afraid of more severe violence, pissing off their abuser, and also, sometimes they just don’t want to do that, because there are other factors, such as they love their abuser, they’re so beaten down already, and they start feeling guilty,” she says.

Markow stresses that the PFA orders are essential in getting anywhere as a victim of domestic abuse. Without one, the entire case often gets caught up, turned around, or thrown out.

“I wrote a law called Robin’s Law,” Markow shares. “It’s named after my sister. That law has been sitting with the lawmakers for over 10 years. Robin’s Law would require any person convicted of a domestic violence crime to be entered into an online database, just the same as Megan’s Law offenders.”

She adds that the only law we have right now in Pennsylvania is the Protection from Abuse Act. There are no domestic violence-specific laws in our state. This is what has to change. We need to engage our court system, government agencies, and legislators to initiate change.

“We have to pay more attention to who we are voting for,” Markow says. “I don’t know what it’s going to take—a strong advocate, somebody who’s not afraid to rise up because we are talking about children that are losing just like the mother is losing. Children are paying the ultimate price for the abuse and the domestic violence that’s going on in the home.”

A startling 70% of victims of domestic violence lose custody of their children to the abuser, Markow notes. This often occurs in cases when the abuser files a fraudulent PFA order.

“I’m not in this for any other reason than to make a difference, and to give dignity and honor to these women,” Markow says. “They have fought a good fight just to lose when they are finally ready to make their move for the thing they fought the most for, which is their children. It’s time for taxpayers to start questioning what they [legislators] are doing with this issue that is most prevalent in our court system today.”

For more information, check out truthtothemasses.com or email Heidi Markow at heidi@truthtothemasses.com.

Follow @LehighValleyMarketplace on Instagram