Victim Colene Brewer

Colene Brewer, Nampa, hugs her son Austin Brewer, 10, outside their apartment in Nampa. The night of July 11, 2006, the years of domestic violence escalated to a point where she called the police after a seven hour fight with her husband. "If I didn't have kids, I wonder if I would have taken my own life," said Colene. Adam Eschbach/IPT

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About seven years ago, I was working my way through college as a medical receptionist at a busy urgent care clinic in West Boise.

I was alone at the front desk one Saturday, when a pretty woman in her 30s came in with two small children. A typical suburban family. They could have been on their way to a birthday party, or soccer practice, or to pick-up a pizza for dinner.

She sat down delicately at my desk and, in a voice barely above a whisper, informed me she needed to see a doctor.

“Sure,” I said, clicking busily at my computer, “And why do you need to be seen today?”

She didn’t say anything. She just burst into tears.

Thirty minutes later — when two policemen entered the clinic and told me the doctor had called them — I pieced together why the woman had come to see us.

Her story is an uncommon one. Not because she was battered — about one-in-four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime — but because she knew where to turn for help and had the courage to seek it out.

That part of her story makes her incredibly rare.

As we’ve learned over the past few months, domestic abuse happens across every culture to women (and sometimes men) of every color, age, religion and socio-economic class.

And despite the severity of domestic violence in our community, a recent study reported by The Associated Press suggests the problem is global in scale.

The report released Thursday from the World Health Organization confirms that 40 percent of women killed worldwide are slain by an intimate partner, and being assaulted by a partner is the most common kind of violence experienced by women.

Even more shocking? One of the authors of the study admitted their findings were probably an underestimate.

The Idaho Press-Tribune news team approached this package with the goal of bringing local awareness to this global epidemic.

Our research has revealed disturbing truths, but we’ve also had the opportunity to visit with some of the incredible people and organizations working to end this cycle of violence.

Over the next five days, we’ll introduce you to some of these people.

You’ll read the stories of women who are rebuilding their lives after years of degradation. And, of course, you learn where you can seek help if you or someone you know is involved in a violent relationship.

We’d like to thank the people who took time from their busy lives to help tell this story, especially the women who shared painful memories from their pasts. It takes courage to share such private details.

But stories like theirs are a valuable opportunity to educate the public on a largely unseen problem that costs our community dearly.

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