Monday, July 8, 2013

"Why don't they just leave?" Guest blog from DV Detective Nancy Willis of Raytown PD

Before stepping into the boots of Law Enforcement I had a misconception of what the job of a Police Officer was. I went into my Law enforcement career as wide eyed gal who wanted to have a really cool job, make a difference and do something meaningful with my life. When I became a Police Officer I had no idea what the job was really about. I could talk about so many aspects of the job from Crime scenes and car chases to robberies and home invasions. But I would rather focus on something more reoccurring…Domestic Violence.  

Being a new cop means taking all the high profile calls in order to gain experience. The one thing I experienced time after time was Domestic Violence calls. Whether it be an argument or whether it be an assault with serious injuries. Time after time I would go to the same house for the same thing but under different circumstance. I would ask my fellow Officer’s why don’t they just leave. The only answer I ever got was an easy one: "I dunno”. Instead of trying to understand that question I found myself becoming frustrated that I was dealing with the same people over and over again. I found myself becoming insensitive…Until I finally asked the victim’s, “Why don’t you just leave”. I got many different answers. Honest answers. From those answers, I began to share what I learned from the victims of Domestic Violence with my fellow officers. 

For many people it’s hard to understand why victims don’t leave the situation they are in. I try to tell those people that there is more to it than that. There are more things to think about after the police have left the incident and after the abuser has gone to jail. The abuser will get out of jail and the revolving door of life will be in motion once again for those victims. There are children to take care of, jobs to show up on time for and responsibilities that cannot go unattended. For those fortunate enough to escape death from an abuser their life has to go on. For the life that keeps going, Hope House is there to help pick up the pieces. Hope House is there whenever the woman needs them no matter how many times she may need them. They are always there with open arms ready for anyone. Hope House gives victim’s the tools they need to escape their abuser without disrupting their life more than it has already. Since the Police cannot stay with victims to be their body guards, Hope House can keep them safe. The victim just has to take their hand.

Every time I went to a Domestic Violence related call I offered Hope House’s services. I tell victim’s everything that Hope House could do for them so they wouldn’t be a victim any longer. I tell victim’s that the violence will progressively get worse. I tell victim’s stories of homicides that were Domestic related in hopes they will put themselves in the story and realize the seriousness of their situation. I tell they the story of “Debbie”... 

Debbie was a wonderful woman whom I had met several times while on Patrol. I was called to her house time after time because her husband had assaulted her or was being violent in the home. During one call I asked her, “why don’t you leave”? She gave me her reason. I understood her reasoning but I stressed how worried I was for her. I gave her information about Hope House then and told her they could help with any issue she was facing. I left her house that night not knowing if she had ever contacted Hope House. I got called back out to Debbie’s house again another night because her husband had assaulted her. When I went inside her house, it was in complete disarray. Her husband had blackened her eye so badly that she could not open it. I reminded Debbie of all the other times I had been there for the same reasons and made her realize that each time she was hurt worse than the last. She told me that she wanted to get away from her husband…Finally! I gave her Hope Houses information again. I know she spoke with them this time but it was up to her to follow through and take Hope House’s advice. Two months later Debbie called 911 and said her husband had just shot her. She later died at the hospital. 

I have not worked Patrol in a couple of years. I now am assigned to the Investigations Unit where I am the DV Detective. I investigate everything DV related. I work even more closely with Hope House now. The victim’s I see and talk to; Hope House see’s and talks to as well. We work together to interrupt the cycle of abuse and give the victims everything they could possibly need to take the steps toward a victimless life. I promote Hope House with great enthusiasm. I have worked and continually work with extraordinary court advocates who give all they have to making victim’s safe. I am thankful Hope House is there for these women. I am thankful for all the people who help Hope House care for these victim’s by donating much needed funds, goods and time. Without Hope House, I believe there would be more Debbie stories. Victims have options for when after the Police leave and Hope House is there to guide them. I am grateful for the relationship I have with Hope House and for their outstanding work in our fight against Domestic Violence.

1 comment:

  1. I am the daughter and and sister of retired Raytown police officers. It happened to me. I never thought it would. No one gets it unless you have been there. Read tomorrow's post.