Thursday, January 14, 2010

Legal System For Victims of Family Violence is Like Shattered Glass

By Susan Murphy Milano

Most of us who hear stories on the news about domestic violence tend to think in terms of a “single incident” or, a “one time only” act of violence. Or at times we hear others question and blame victims for being involved in these types of dangerous sitations. But we must understand that the world in which these "victims" live, is often no different than captured and tortured prisioners of war. The vanished, the missing, the murdered all were calculated and planned out by an abusive, angry and controlling individual.

 The term “DOMESTIC VIOLENCE” is a continuing pattern of behavior which can include : repeated harassment, stalking or surveillance of the victim,' threats and intimidation, bodily harm, sexual assault, child abduction or the constant threat , that can escalate, in some cases to murder . In most abuse cases, the danger continues despite the victim’s attempts to get help from traditional sources. For example, after a battered woman seeks assistance from the courts or separates from her abuser, she statistically runs a greater risk of increased harm. The abuser is furious, and steps up his behavior and violent attacks. And often the victim is left to fend for herself when it comes to protecting her life. 

 Local shelters play an important role in not only providing a safe place to go, but many victims are unaware that shelters also assist victims in obtaining orders of protection, counseling and legal assistance. To visit them on the web: or their tool free number is 1-800-799-SAFE. The phones are answered twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. 

 Many women are victims of chronic abuse. They have been threatened with repeated violence or even death. Victim’s are no stranger to the court system, they have often waded through stacks of police reports, orders of protection filings and numerous criminal complaints. They have spent long hours in the courtroom seeking protection through the legal system. And with each step a victim takes, in some situations, their abusers have become increasingly violent toward them. 

As a society, we still sweep the issue of domestic violence aside, like disposable garbage. I hear comments all the time “why can’t she just leave” or “ she must have done something to provoke his behavior.” No one drives anyone to commit acts of violence and terror. The abusers do this because society has allowed them to get away with their behavior of power and control. 

We have come a long way when it comes to drinking and driving. Laws across the country, are strict and often severe in nature. A person found guilty of drinking and driving no longer gets off with a slap on the wrists. They do serious jail time for this crime. 

Why are we unable to do apply the same logic when it comes to Domestic Violence? 

Is it because we think off it as a private matter between two consenting adults? Drinking used to be a private matter, involving consenting adults, until people started getting killed, then organizations fought hard to get tough legislation passed. There has been tough legislation passed over the years on abuse and stalking related crimes by organizations across the county. It is no longer enough. Technology has assisted the abusers in their efforts to control and harass their prey.

As you read the tragedies with your morning coffee, realize, more must be implemented to assist victims in leaving safely.

Current laws were not signed by elected officials with a pen of ink, but with a pen of blood, of all those who lost their lives.

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