Local News

Delay Can Be Fatal in Domestic Violence

Posted April 19, 1998

— All too often, people in situations of physical abuse make what turns out to be a fatal mistake: they allow the abuser back in their lives and their homes.

Domestic violence experts say some spouses return to an abusive relationship six to 10 times before making the final break.

According to Marie French of Interact, one of two things often happens: the batterer issues more threats, along the lines of "If you leave me (or stay away or don't take me back), I'll hurt you, it will get worse." Or they say, "We can work this out."

It is not unusual for police officers to respond repeatedly to disputes at the same home. Cary police hope to end that cycle by instituting a pro-arrest policy: if there has been a fight, someone goes to jail.

Lt. Mark Parker of the Cary Police Department says, "If there is physical evidence, the Cary Police Department generally makes an arrest of the primary aggressor in the case and takes that person before the magistrate."

Sending the abuser to jail eliminates the immediate threat of violence, but victims also need a safety plan, one they can count on if the abuser comes back.

"Police do the best job they can," French says, "but they can't be with you 24 hours a day. That's why the safety plan is so important." French said victims need to be vigilant, aware of their surroundings, know to keep the doors locked, know that if this person shows up, the door must not be opened.

Children can also be involved in the plan, so that they know to call 911 if the abuser shows up.

Restraining orders can also help but not everyone will obey a restraining order -- and it can't help those who return to the abusive relationship.

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