They’re just statistics no longer

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Just two weeks ago, The Press published a story with the banner headline, “Violence trend on the rise.”

The story included statistics showing alarming domestic violence increases from 2015 to 2016. Survivors of domestic and sexual violence who sought help from Safe Passage in Coeur d’Alene increased by a third in that short span, from 735 to 987. But at least they survived. On Wednesday, Kelly Pease did not.

Pease, 37, died from an apparent gunshot wound to the head. The suspect, identified as 61-year-old Steven T. Denson, apparently killed himself Thursday. Sources say Denson was Pease’s ex-boyfriend, and his criminal record reflects abuse.

In the days leading to Pease’s death, she posted several messages about domestic violence on social media. At 5:54 p.m. Monday, she wrote: “I refuse to perpetuate the cycle of domestic violence by exposing my children to it. I do not abuse… therefore I will not submit myself to abuse.”

The statistics in that Feb. 23 story now, tragically, have a face. It’s the face of a loving mother and North Idaho College nursing student; a courageous woman determined to free herself and her family from violence and create a career where she could devote her talents to helping others.

Sometimes, the determination of a violent person will transcend every effort to keep potential victims safe. That might be the case with Kelly Pease; much more information is needed before that conclusion can be confirmed, however.

But in the vast majority of cases involving domestic violence and other forms of abuse, help is readily available. In our region it’s Safe Passage.

The staff at Safe Passage is superb, prepared to provide assistance ranging from adults fleeing life-threatening situations to teens facing dating violence and children encountering bullying or other problems.

Safe Passage, formerly known as the Women’s Center and North Idaho Violence Prevention Center, has for years quietly saved lives and helped rebuild them. If you or someone you know needs their help, a hotline is available 24/7. Call (208) 664-9303.

In the meantime, though, Safe Passage also needs support, particularly with the increased workload it’s seen over the past year and a half. They need people to serve on the Safe Passage board, help with corporate sponsors, and donations for its thrift shop on Fourth Street in midtown.

If you can help in any way, please do it for Kelly.

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