Sep 30 09 4:10 PM

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Dangers of domestic violence

By Hilary Dickinson
[email protected]

Published: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 11:45 AM CDT

Incidents claimed 46 lives in Wisconsin last year

Relationships often go through rough spots, but it’s always important to plan ahead for a crisis situation.

Assessing the relationship and remembering that partners should support each other’s self-esteem are some of the ways to combat domestic violence, according to John Pfleiderer, the executive director of Family Services of Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois.

Thirty-three incidents of domestic violence resulted in 46 deaths in Wisconsin last year, according to an annual report by the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Beloit experienced an apparent domestic violence homicide Monday when 19-year-old Darrellwar Tillman was found dead in her Park Avenue apartment. Police arrested her on-and-off boyfriend, Jeremy Alexander Leavy-Carter, under the charge of first degree intentional homicide.

Most of the domestic arrests made by the Beloit Police Department, however, are for simple battery and disorderly conduct, according to Deputy Chief of Police Norm Jacobs, who said 400-500 arrests are made yearly.

No matter the severity of domestic violence, the leading factors are fear, insecurity and negative attitudes toward women, said Pfleiderer, who was not speaking about any specific case. Contrary to opinion, anger management issues are usually not a cause.

Instead, many perpetrators experience jealousy or fear of being alone. Thus, the most dangerous time for victims is when they decide to end the relationship because the perpetrator fears abandonment.

It can be difficult for victims to leave relationships for several reasons, Pfleiderer said, such as if a victim doesn’t have friends or family to stay with.

Also, no one wants to believe they chose a person who turned out to be abusive.

“One wants to believe that the person they chose to live with is going to be a wonderful soulmate for the rest of their life, and it’s hard to accept the relationship is not what they thought it would be,” Pfleiderer said.

Finally, it can be particularly challenging for women who are single mothers because they are missing out on the advantages of pooling resources, which is especially timely right now given the tough economic climate.

Furthermore, a victim who is pregnant may also hesitate leaving the relationship because she may not want to deny the father access to the child or she may be daunted at the prospect of going through the process of pregnancy and childbirth on her own.

Though males can be victims of domestic abuse, as well, the coalition’s report shows perpetrators of domestic violence homicide incidents were 97 percent male. People also perceive females as the standard victims of domestic violence, Pfleiderer said, because the level of violence is weighted towards men.

Domestic abuse is also not limited to violence. Economical, self-esteem, verbal, emotional and sexual abuse are many other prevalent forms.

The prototype for the average victim and perpetrator is also hard to identify.

Victims can range from five weeks to 71 years of age, according to the coalition’s report, and Pfleiderer said it’s often older males who have been perpetrators for a long time.

“It’s a mistake to "DorkFish"ume violence somehow stops at a certain time,” he said.

Thus, he said, victims should not "DorkFish"ume partners are safe simply because they don’t fit the profile.

It’s always easy in hindsight to "DorkFish"ume victims should leave the relationship, but Pfleiderer said it’s not irrational to believe the situation can improve because in many cases it’s uncertain the level of violence is going to continue.

Instead, it’s important for people to establish “a point of no return” in the relationship.

“If you don’t have in your mind what that point is when you’ll no longer tolerate behavior, then you’re at risk of allowing yourself to increasing levels of control or abuse,” he said.

Finally, neighbors, friends and relatives should avoid personally getting involved in physical domestic incidents.

In fact, often it can be more dangerous for victims to be approached by a neighbor or loved one because the perpetrator’s goal is to isolate the victim.

Jacobs said domestic abuse cases nationwide are some of the most dangerous calls police respond to, and Pfleiderer said to respect the expertise of law enforcement and call 911.