SuperTalk Mississippi

Domestic violence: victim stigma, crime of intimacy

Time often doesn’t pass by without seeing a headline or hearing a story of domestic violence or abuse. Many times, the story of a couple, locked into a violent relationship, is followed by the questions: “Why do they stay? Why don’t they speak up?”

Byram Police Chief Luke Thompson said there’s a different side to the crime when it comes to domestic violence.

“In our realm of business, we talk about law enforcement, which is often how it is treated… we enforce the rule that was broken,” said Thompson. “But with domestic violence, we add the aspect of the victim.”

Thompson said over time, they’ve learned to address the victim, not just the crime.

“What we’re starting to turn focus to is introducing victim services as early as possible,” said Thompson.

The chief added that studies have shown a positive impact when the focus is shifted to helping the victim as early as possible.

In many domestic violence situations, the victim stays quiet about the abuse. Though others may understand what is happening, they may refuse to report it.

“We have to create a deterrent within the community,” said Sandy Middleton, Executive Director for the Center for Violence Prevention.

“People say ‘oh well it isn’t my business,'” said Middleton. “But oftentimes, and even recently, we see that it is our business because that violence spreads into the community.”

But that still begs the question: why don’t the victims leave?

“Domestic violence is an intimate crime,” said Middleton. “A lot of times they (the victims) don’t want to cooperate with law enforcement.”

Middleton said the fear isn’t of getting in trouble with the law, but of the continued abuse.

“Some of these cases, victims may be brutally beaten,” said Middleton. “And if for some reason law enforcement doesn’t handle it correctly, he’s coming back home, and she’s getting it again.”


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