Justice in Motion — October is domestic violence awareness month


If domestic violence was becoming less common, I would stop writing this column every October. Unfortunately, people continue to physically and mentally abuse those they profess to love. In the past, I’ve written about state statistics or specific local tragedies. This year, I decided to highlight local statistics and a local law enforcement team.

I want to thank Sergeant C.J. Chastain for taking time on his graveyard shifts this week to pull together the information I requested for this column. Sgt. Chastain is a member of the Domestic Assault Response Team (DART) for the Aberdeen Police Department.

DART has five investigators and one supervisor/grant manager and has existed in the community for close to seven years. This dedicated team has a comprehensive approach in reducing domestic violence. DART works in collaboration with the Domestic Violence Center of Grays Harbor. Beyond Survival, DSHS, the Aberdeen City Attorney and the Grays Harbor Prosecuting Attorney. In addition to investigating cases, DART follows up with the victims to make sure the alleged perpetrators are not violating pre-trial no contact orders, referring victims to resources, etc.

Domestic violence is complex. Many victims return to their abusers; sometimes multiple times. DART is trained to empathize and not “blame the victim” when it may take time for a victim to have the courage to leave. Abusers are often highly skilled in manipulation and control, which may cause victims to have difficulty in making rational decisions about their own safety—especially if the victim is relying on the abuser for financial support.

In 2012 (these statistics include assistance by Aberdeen’s Victim/Witness Coordinator), there were 160 victims/survivors, including 135 Whites, 14 Hispanics, eight Native Americans, three African Americans, 130 female and 30 male. In addition, the age breakdown includes two victims ages 13-17, 37 victims ages 18-24, 115 victims ages 25-59, six victims age 60+. Looking more in depth, 57 victims were in a dating relationship; 54 were current or former spouses or intimate partners; 41 were family or household members; seven were an acquaintance; and one the relationship to the perpetrator was unknown.

More broadly than Aberdeen, in 2012, of the 327 incidents reported to the Grays Harbor 911 Center, 97 calls resulted in a written report, with 76 arrests.

In 2013, Aberdeen has had 187 reported domestic violence incidents. DART has responded to 61 cases (65 victims total, as four cases had multiple victims in the household). Arrests occurred in 45 cases with 16 cases being forwarded to the prosecutor for review and determination of charges to be filed. On this trajectory, DART is thus far seeing a reduction in its cases this year (though, of course, MANY cases go unreported).

There are also domestic violence cases reported as domestic violence/malicious mischief, i.e., damage to property, as opposed to physical assaults. DART does not work on these cases, but these cases are not insignificant as these acts of violence increase a victim’s level of fear of the perpetrator and is likely to escalate over time.

It should also be noted that while women are more often the victims, domestic violence can have both male and female victims and/or perpetrators. Of the 2013 cases, 45 cases had male suspects and 16 female; and 50 female victims and 15 male.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, help is available!

Resources:

Domestic Violence Center of Grays Harbor County / (800) 818-2194 / (Facebook)

Crisis Support Network in Pacific County / (800) 435-7276 / www.crisis-support.org

Children’s Advocacy Center / (800) 959-1467 / (360) 249-0005 / http://www.cacgh.org/

Beyond Survival / (360) 533-9751 / (888) 626-2640 / http://www.ghbeyondsurvival.com/

Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence / www.wscadv.org

Washington State Domestic Violence Hotline / (800) 562-6025

To find out if you are eligible for Northwest Justice Project services:

For cases including youth (Individualized Education Program and school discipline issues), debt collection cases and tenant evictions, please call for a local intake appointment at (360) 533-2282 or toll free (866) 402-5293. No walk-ins, please.

For all other legal issues, please call our toll-free intake and referral hotline commonly known as “CLEAR” (Coordinated Legal Education Advice and Referral) at 1-888-201-1014, Mondays through Fridays 9:10 a.m. to 12:25 p.m. If you are a senior, 60 and over, please call 1-888-387-7111; you may be eligible regardless of income. Language interpreters are available. You can also complete an application for services at http://nwjustice.org/get-legal-help. Be sure to also check out our law library at: www.washingtonlawhelp.org.

Sarah Glorian is the senior attorney for the Aberdeen office of the Northwest Justice Project, a private, non-profit legal aid organization providing free representation to low-income residents in Grays Harbor and Pacific counties.