The life you save may be your own

Published 8:25 am Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Abusing someone you profess to love is not normal behavior. Unfortunately, it occurs round-the-clock, each day of the week.

Domestic violence cases are numerous across our nation and in this area of the state. Last year alone, 122 deaths occurred across our state due to domestic violence. That total was 16 more than the year before.

Of the domestic murders last year, 78 of the victims were female and 44 were male. The murders were committed by 104 male offenders and 18 female offenders.

No matter how staggering those numbers are, and no matter how helpless the abuser tries to make you feel, victims should know that the law is on your side.

No one should ever have to endure beatings, harassment, threats or any other unwanted abuse from a mate or any other member of your family.

There is help for victims, both from law enforcement after an incident and from SAFE (Shelter for Abused Families in Emergencies) if you have to flee from an abuser.

Our local District Attorney, Valerie Asbell, is another ally in the ongoing effort to curb the tide of domestic violence. As our area’s top law enforcement official, Asbell keeps close tabs on criminal trends and on many occasions has gone out into the local community to publically address issues such as domestic violence. At one point, Asbell’s office had the highest conviction rate in the state in domestic violence cases.

“If being proactive in the community means keeping people out of court, preventing someone becoming a victim, then we’re all for that,” Asbell told me earlier this year while I was interviewing her for our annual Crossroads special edition.

But there are others as passionate as Asbell over seeing a dramatic decrease in domestic violence cases.

If you are physically abused or threatened with abuse, contact law enforcement officers as soon as you are able to do so. Not only can they put the abuser in jail after an abusive incident, you can get help through the judicial system in either putting some distance between yourself and your abuser or force the abuser to get the psychological help he (or she) obviously needs.

Constant abuse of a spouse or other family member is indicative of a very disturbed individual and though he (or she) might be apologetic and swear it will never happen again, abusive individuals usually get worse and worse, sometimes reaching the stage when abuse turns to murder.

Talk to the people at SAFE or ask a law enforcement officer for advice – take action to save yourself or your children from abuse.

Hertford County Sheriff Juan Vaughan says if you are in an abusive relationship, plan your escape, find a place to stay and try to save some money for the escape.

Create a survival kit and include items such as bus/cab fare, a change of clothes, car and house keys, legal documents, etc. Ask a neighbor or trusted friend to keep it for you in case of an emergency.

One of the first things you should do is contact SAFE (332-1933). Not only can the competent and compassionate staff at SAFE help you escape the abuse, but they can also advise you of your legal rights.

Another noteworthy bit of advice in crimes involving domestic violence, if an innocent bystander does witness an attack, do not get physically involved, but call the police.  And never underestimate the severity of an attack.

If your neighbors are constantly fighting, verbally or otherwise, call the police. The quarreling is perhaps disturbing your peace, but the most important fact is by reporting the incident you may be saving someone’s life.

And if you become involved to the point where you offer your home as a shelter to a domestic violence victim, consider the consequences of your personal safety.

To report an incident of domestic violence, contact your local municipal police department or countySheriff’s Office.

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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