Over the past four days, The Citizen has published a large collection of stories, photos and videos related to domestic violence in Cayuga County.

We decided to explore the issue in-depth because its prevalence here is so much higher than the state average. But we wanted to do more than share the numbers with you. We wanted to share what we learned about why it happens and, more importantly, what can be done about it.

Heart-wrenching remembrances of lives cut short are anything but enjoyable reading, but we believe that talking openly and honestly about domestic violence is the best way to combat it. We were fortunate to have so many people willing to share their stories with us — and in turn, with you.

One thing we discovered is that there is no "typical" case of domestic violence. It happens to people of all walks of life, from all neighborhoods, from all educational backgrounds and income levels.

Most cases of domestic violence don't result in murder. Many don't result in broken bones and police reports. It is our hope that by bringing this topic a pubic airing that girlfriends, boyfriends, spouses and domestic partners who endure a troubling relationship will become educated about the options and the resources available to help them.

And those resources are abundant.

As much as we are disappointed in the high number of domestic violence in Cayuga County, we are inspired by the number of people in this area who are so passionate and dedicated to fighting it.

Cayuga County Sheriff David Gould told us that the only way a victim can overcome domestic violence is to find help. "They need family, they need friends, they need professionals to be by their side every minute," he said. "And the only way they can help themselves is by getting help from someone else."

Our hope is that this conversation will will carry on. We hope that people will have a better understanding of how widespread domestic violence is in our community and that it's not OK to ignore it. We hope to help erase any lingering "It's not my problem" attitude that anyone might have. It is our problem — all of us — and we need to work together to do all we can to stop it.

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