Letter: Seriousness of domestic violence
October 18, 2016
It is with a heavy heart that I write this letter. Our community has experienced a death of a woman at the hands of her abusive partner. Something that may have been preventable.
I have heard many people discussing through different formats why this perpetrator had the ability to have a gun. People have reacted by saying that without his knowledge of a protection order (a protection order prevents perpetrators from having guns because of the Brady Act), there would be no way for him to know or the law to enforce that he shouldn't have a gun. This is true. And I disagree with this response.
Domestic violence is a silent epidemic that should not be taken lightly. All cases should be taken seriously. Perpetrators of domestic violence are manipulative. The smoke and mirrors they create is what makes them successful at their abuse. This becomes apparent when an abuser is warm and charming to a law enforcement officer, the district attorney's staff or even their family/friends in order to convince everybody else that they are innocent and that the victim is "crazy."
Domestic violence is a complex set of behaviors perpetrated by one person in a relationship in order to obtain power and/or control over their partner. It is not only complex for victims, but confusing, shaming, frustrating, tiresome and often feels like it's never-ending with no escape. I have spoken with hundreds of survivors during my career, and these are often the common threads between all cases.
It has been made apparent to us through media that this perpetrator had an arrest warrant issued because of previous domestic violence charges. I disagree that the problem was this perpetrator having a gun at the time because I can't help but wonder:
1. Did our community handle the first domestic violence charges appropriately? If not so, why not?
2. Did our community actively pursue the arrest warrant? If not so, why not?
All I know is that a woman has lost her life. A small child has lost a mother and also has a father who may be incarcerated for the rest of his life. The ripple effects of domestic violence run deep.
In 2014, Garfield County began the Garfield County Domestic Violence Coalition, whose objective is to keep victims safe and hold offenders accountable. But the problem is not all agencies are interested, attend or make it a priority. I hope this tragic event can be a catalyst for change within our community and all interested agencies in Garfield County. It will take our entire community to truly prevent domestic violence.
Advocacy director, Advocate Safehouse Project