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There’s an old folk tale that people who deal with domestic violence tell to make a point. It goes like this: If you put a frog in a pot of boiling hot water, it will jump out. But if you put a frog — a cold-blooded creature — in a pot of cold water and gradually turn up the heat, it will be boiled alive.

If someone became violent on a first or second date, you’d most likely jump away. It’s shocking.

But if you eventually marry someone who little by little becomes more and more controlling, exerts power and authority over you, threatens you or starts hitting you, you may not notice what’s happening.

It starts out slowly, and you even start to think that if you change or become a better person or a more loving spouse, the violence — be it mental, emotional or physical — will go away.

It’s difficult to leave a spouse — the father or mother of your children — or walk away from financial support. Where do you go? Who will believe you?

Fortunately, I was raised in a stable family situation. When I started covering Canyon County courts and crimes in the 1980s, I started to understand what domestic violence is.

One in four people — mostly women — are victims of domestic violence. I think about my different friendship circles and the women I know. As we in the newsroom have discussed this special package on domestic violence, I’ve pondered this one-in-four statistic.

Who are they? What are they hiding? What kind of hell do they suffer through? Why don’t they say something? Why don’t they ask for help? Why can’t I see it? What can I do?

Law enforcement officials, counselors and shelters are overwhelmed with the number of cases they deal with day after day. They see the visible evidence of domestic violence. But unless you are dealing with it, it’s not something you see or think about it.

The Idaho Press-Tribune’s five-day special report that begins today is designed to increase your awareness about a very real problem in Canyon County.

Maybe some people will honestly evaluate their own circumstances and realize they don’t have to endure abuse. Today’s stories by Torrie Cope may open their eyes.

Maybe it’s something you’ll see in the workplace. Torrie has another story on Monday that gives guidance if you suspect someone is a victim.

Maybe someone will examine his/her own abusive actions and seek counseling.

Maybe, just maybe, our reports can stop even a few cases of abuse. Just maybe we can save a few more frogs.

By the way, there’s a local organization called A Frog in the Pot. It was founded in Caldwell in 2003 and works quietly to raise awareness one relationship at a time. You can learn more about the group at facebook.com/afroginthepot.

Please set time aside this week and read our five-day special report. Email me at vholbrook@idahopress.com or call me at 465-8110 to let me know what you think.

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