Living in isolation: Getting help difficult for domestic abuse victims in rural areas

By: Aaron Dimick Email
By: Aaron Dimick Email

LADYSMITH, Wis. (WEAU) -- Coming forward as a victim of domestic abuse can be a hard thing for many women.

But at times it can be even more challenging for victims who live in rural areas.

This last weekend, a man was arrested for allegedly shooting and killing his wife.

Court records show the couple had a history of domestic abuse.

The Rusk County Sheriff's Department said Sunday night, 911 got a call from 65-year-old Darlene Lazar, saying her husband Donald Lazar had shot her.

Darlene was soon found dead in her home outside Hawkins and Donald was arrested.

Since this happened in rural Rusk County, WEAU 13 News wanted to find out what's being done to help abuse victims who live in isolated areas.

WEAU went to the Time Out Family Abuse Shelter in Ladysmith.

Connie Hanson is a Sexual Assault Advocate for the shelter.

She said abused women who live in rural areas often face a mountain of challenges getting help.

The big ones are finding a place to live and getting a job in an area with high unemployment.

“Even having difficulty reaching us if they're in a very rural living situation just because of cell phone transmission problems, transportation problems, there is no public transportation in Rusk County,” Hanson said.

She said domestic abuse is sometimes kept hidden in small towns because of close connections where word can spread so quickly.

“The old stereotypes die slower in rural areas than they do in populated areas, so the culture of the man is leader of the household still exists,” Hanson said.

Advocates often educate teens and kids about domestic abuse to prevent old ways of thinking from going to the next generation.

“There is more awareness but with the older generation, but it's more difficult. Especially in a farm situation where the woman depends on her husband or the farm for her economic stability,” Hanson said.

Investigators are recommending a First Degree Murder charge for Lazar.

There's still no word yet on when a charging decision will be made.

If you'd like to get help for domestic abuse, you can find resources in your community from the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

A link to its website is posted below.

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