I am a part of a lot of different Domestic Violence support groups on Facebook and I have been noticing a constant trend-lack of a relationship/trust with police.
Now, let it be clear that I am a major supporter of law enforcement, I am in no way bashing them, but I think there needs to be some changes in our laws.
My personal experience with a Sheriff after my attack wasn’t the best. The sheriff was parked on my street when I returned home from my first post op. This sheriff came up to me and was very rude. He wouldn’t look me in the eye. He made me feel as though I was waisting his time. Huffing and puffing. When I was asked to show him my arms I complied, he said the bruising was gone-of course it was, it had been at least 14 days since the attack. He went through my phone. I felt judged, looked down upon, and ashamed. I was re-victimized. When asked if I wanted to press charges I said yes. He informed me that its up to the DA if the charges stick or not, and that he would go and talk to R and get his side of the story. He had me sign a medical release form and handed me this pamphlet with domestic violence information. There was no compassion, he never asked me if I felt safe, or if I was okay. I called the officer repeatedly trying to see if he had ever received my medical records, that was where the abuse was noted the most and it wouldn’t be a case of “he said/she said”. That officer never returned my phone calls and never received my medical records resulting in R getting a misdemeanor charge and a probation violation. Thats a slap on the wrist for causing my child and I to almost die in my opinion.
I see in the support groups how these woman are already so fragile, we have had our world rocked, we are beaten down emotionally and physically so bad that we don’t know what to do, who to trust, what the next step should be. We call 911 in fear for our lives knowing the risk it puts us in if the abuser hears us doing so. 1/3 of female homicides are because of their partner.
Now on the law enforcement side of things, their hands are tied. I can only imagine the weight their jobs carry weigh on them. Seeing such horrible things. They are trained to not have an emotional reaction to the situations they are called to respond to, so at some point the compassion has to leave them. When we call for help its when we are frantic, in fear for our lives, its their job to stay calm and diffuse the situation at hand. We as DV survivors know how horrible DV situations are. These calls are one of the most dangerous calls police officers respond to-22% of in line of duty deaths were from DV calls.
In order for the police to do anything there needs to be signs of abuse (bruising, broken objects, fear for your life) or written/recorded threats. The officers will make an arrest if there are signs of physical abuse, however you can make a citizens arrest if the bruising is gone (this needs to be said more). There is a new law to remove all firearms from the home. They must make an arrest if there is any violation of a protective order. They must offer an emergency protective order which lasts for 5 days, the victim receives it right then and there, it is then the victims responsibility to move forward and get a long term protective order in place. In the case of there being marks on both parties the police officer must identify the aggressor and arrest that person. They must carry out a full investigation (medical records, witness statements, 911 phone call, pictures of injuries/scene of crime).
Statistics show that a domestic violence victim goes back to the abuser on average 8 times. That breaks my heart. If you are abused on a daily basis, imagine how many punches will be thrown, how many more broken bones to be had, and how much more the abuser will beat down the victim emotionally. Completely crippling them. Not to mention the risk of retaliation resulting in the murder of the victim, because they called the police for help.
What needs to change is what steps are taken when the abuse starts-verbally. Most domestic violence survivors will tell you about the verbal abuse first. How the perfect man turned into a monster. These abuser tell us how amazing we are, start buying us things, being prince charming. Then slowly they beat us down, tell us how ugly we are, worthless, Bitches/Sluts, controlling us, taking our friends away, then our family until the only person we have left is them. Verbal abuse is a huge form of domestic violence. I can tell you the words and way R destroyed my self esteem was way worse than any physical abuse he did to me. Bruises heal, words stick with you forever.
Domestic Violence restraining orders/protective orders need to protect more than just physical abuse victims. The judges need to approve the cases of verbal abuse too. If we can prevent the verbal abuse from continuing maybe we can prevent the future physical abuse from happening.