NMCADV BOD Member Submits Letter to the Editor of Carlsbad Paper

Posted on 24. Oct, 2017 by in Articles, News

A re-commitment to ending domestic violence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and it marks the 23rd anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act or VAWA. VAWA marked a turning point for many, including law enforcement.

I began my career as a police officer in 1986. At that time there was no domestic violence shelter in the town I worked in. The best that a victim could hope for was that there was enough money in the chaplains’ fund to get one night in a cheap motel.

If an officer responded to your home for a domestic violence call, he would often tell the victim to leave the house, and ask misguided questions like ‘Why do you stay here anyway?  Why do you put up with it?  What did you do to make him angry?’ Or make detrimental statements like, “If I have to come back here one more time tonight, someone is going to jail.”

Domestic violence was, for far too long, seen as a lesser offense, and frequently treated like a private matter. Victims were often just sent home from the hospital without intervention, children were left to suffer in silence. And as a consequence, abuse could go on for years. In many cases the violence only ended with the death of a woman or a child.

We’ve come a long way in the last 20 years or so. We have changed laws. We’ve made progress in changing the way people think about domestic abuse. We’ve reduced the incidences of domestic violence.

I’m happy to say that police officers receive much better training on dealing with family violence these days. We have a better understanding of the dynamics of family violence. We know why people stay in violent relationships, we understand the financial hurdles that must be overcome, the power and control exerted by offenders, how children are used a pawns. We are mandated to offer adequate protection to victims.  We understand how drugs and alcohol are used as excuses for violent behavior. We have policies and procedures to hold us accountable, and we understand the fear.

In Carlsbad and Artesia we have a first class domestic violence shelter to take a victim and her children to. A shelter with well trained, professional, caring staff. A clean, comfortable, and most importantly, a safe place to stay.

All of the law enforcement officers in Eddy County, and thousands of county residents can tell you stories of how cruel, how menacing domestic violence can be — because it happens at home, the place where you should feel safe. Because the abuse comes at the hands of the people who are supposed to love you and take care of you. Because domestic violence is not only associated with fear but also incredible financial and legal challenges that often leave victims of abuse feeling trapped.

We’ve made a great deal of progress in recent years, but we must understand that the work is far from complete. Not when there is much more to do to ensure that the victims of abuse have access to legal protection. Not when children are trapped in abusive homes — especially when we know the lingering damage and despair that this can cause in a child’s life. Not when one in every four women experiences domestic violence — and one in six women are sexually assaulted — at some point in their lives. Not when one out of every 10 teenagers are physically hurt on purpose by someone they are dating. Not when nearly two out of three Americans 15 years of age or older know a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, and domestic violence homicides claim the lives of three women every day. This is not acceptable. I say that not only as a police officer, but as a son, as a husband, and as a father.

We must work harder to help the victims of violence to overcome the financial barriers they often face getting back on their feet. We must work harder to assist victims with getting legal representation, job skills training, and counseling. We must work harder to ensure that no one has to choose between a violent home and no home at all.

Nobody should live in fear because they are unsafe in their own home. No adult, no child. And no one who is the victim of domestic violence should ever feel that they have no way to get out. Working together we can make sure that every victim of domestic violence knows that they are not alone, that there are resources available to them in their moment of greatest need.

Let’s use Domestic Violence Awareness Month to mark our re-commitment to offering a helping hand to those most in need, and as a reminder to them that they are not alone, and also to recommit to changing our culture and rejecting tolerance of what is unacceptable.

Eddy County’s success will be judged by how we treat women and girls. We must all work together to end domestic violence.

Det. Sgt. Eric K. Threlkeld

Eric Threlkeld is a NMCADV community representative board member in Carlsbad, NM.

View full article at http://www.currentargus.com/story/opinion/readers/2017/10/24/letters-editor/791280001/ 

Comments are closed.