Domestic Violence: Invisible Wounds
By Ellen M. Burton
   
 
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When we talk about domestic violence it is easy to picture the male wife beater who terrorizes and mistreats his family. You know, the one.  Just about every week the police are at the residence and the entire neighborhood is a twitter with gossip.
 
 "Why doesn't she just leave? Why does she keep going back?"
 
The truth is not that simple and the reality encompasses many factors that are complex and  may be difficult to understand.
 
To begin with, domestic violence is not just a man on woman crime but includes every domestic relationship whether it be parent-child, couples of the same sex, child parent, or even a woman abusing a man.  It includes current or former spouses or significant others, boyfriends or girlfriends, dating partners, or  even during a one-night-stand or other sexual encounter.
 
The dynamics of these relationships almost certainly involve verbal manipulation that places the intended victim at such a disadvantage they don’t recognize the danger until it is too late.
 
Many abusers bring a sob story into a relationship which leaves the victim with a sense of responsibility to fix the problem. Abusers know how to choose victims and they may go from victim to victim, until they seek help or the court system finally sees the necessity of putting them in prison.
 
Psychologically manipulative and verbally abusive, the abuser can wear the victim down. Those who have survived domestic violence need counseling to reverse the damages left by the abuser. Often victims are made to isolate themselves from support systems so their whole world is made up of the abuser.  The damage leaves them feeling helpless, worthless, beaten, and alone. Many times the victim will return to the abuser. The feeling of helplessness and isolation is so great the victim begins to believe that there is no life outside the world the abuser has created.  
 
It is so important for those victims to be able to seek and receive assistance from the police, community and courts.  I have seen victims intimidated by abusers into signing affidavits dismissing charges and those abusers walking free to terrorize their victims again. I have seen judges accept the dismissals!  I have seen police officers not knowing how to handle domestic violence calls. In one particular instance the victim was not given the , "Notice to Victim's of Domestic Violence".

You Have The Right To:

Safety for yourself and your children - For information about shelters in your area contact your local law enforcement agency or victim services representative.

Counseling, information - about the legal system, and getting the offender court-ordered into a counseling program.   Contact your local law enforcement agency or victim services representative.

Court-ordered protection from the offender - Protective orders are issued through the County Attorney's Office.   This order must be issued directly to the offender.  It orders him to stay away from you and your family; to stop any communication, direct or through others, that is threatening or harassing; and to stop committing family violence against you.
 
I have seen assistant district attorneys treat victims with apathy so palatable that the victim is further left with a prevailing sense of guilt and despair. Perpetrators receive deferred adjudication sentences because victims give up without question when they are treated as if they are partially to blame. "Deferred Adjudication" In short is a type of probation. A defendant is placed on a probation for a certain period of time. If the probation is successfully completed, the case is "dismissed."
 
I love our police, but the truth is, more training needs to be implemented.  Good men and women are trying to do their jobs, not knowing all they need to know for the environment they face on the streets. The difference in getting the criminal off the streets begins with the written report, and the gathering of evidence. It is a tremendous responsibility that can mean the difference in getting a case dismissed or seeing it adjudicated. On the other hand,  I have seen officers do everything to see a case to fruition only to see it dismissed. Often what happens is that some 'I' isn't dotted, or a 'T' is not crossed somewhere down the  line by the some of the many personnel that review the case and pass it on to the court.
 
I personally have had two high risk sex offender cases dismissed for frivolous reasons, because the ADA  decided in his own false sense of hubris, that the violator had already spent enough time in county jail. It is understandable why it is easy for victims and practitioners to lose faith in the system.
 
I am aware of an inmate in Galveston County Jail as I write this story, Raymond Scott Vann,  who is a violent offender. He has victimized six women in Texas and one in Colorado. He has severely beaten, and stabbed at least one of his victims and threw her down a flight of stairs. He should have been in prison after the first victim. After his fifth victim he was sentenced to ten years deferred adjudication. My question is; why did there have to be a second victim?  Why a third?  Why a fourth?  Why a fifth?  Why wasn't he made to fulfill the conditions of his probation? Why did there have to be a sixth?
 
One need not be a predictor of criminal behavior to see this isn't going to end well.

This perpetrator convinces every woman he meets that his problems all rest on the woman before her. He has a smooth demeanor and a velvet tongue that disguises the devil that lies beneath. His drug use causes him to exhibit erratic behavior which he will tell you stems from his blood sugar problems. He has also managed to conceal the fact that he possesses several weapons.  He is an expert at eliciting sympathy,  even from judges. Nothing is ever his fault and all of his problems stem from not being given a fair shake in life.
 
Domestic violence is a problem in our community.  Police need to listen. The courts need to listen. Victims need advocates who have the experience and the desire to not be intimidated by the "system".
 
If something isn't done, there is going to be a consequence.  Next time there may not be a living victim; there may be a corpse instead.  
 
Every component to a crime must be followed to it's conclusion.  How else are we to seek justice?

Ellen M. Burton, Is a Graduate of Sam Houston State University’s College of Criminal Justice, and Brazosport College Law  Enforcement Academy.
She is a retired Galveston County Sheriff Deputy and a former parole officer whose specialty was the supervision of Sex Offenders.
While at Sam Houston State University she studied under Dr. Douglas Moore, and focused her studies on sex offenders.


Copyright 2017 (c) Police News Publishing Co. LLC.



Comments:
Want to hear the truth above domestic violence from someone who has seen first hand the suffering of the victim and the shortcomings of even those who investigate these crimes. Many times we have heard a police officer after making one of these calls say, "Oh, it was just another family fight." Read this story and 'think'.
Posted by strand at 10/13/2017 10:35:10 AM

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<B>Ellen Burton
Ellen Burton
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