Domestic Violence Action Month: Changing the conversation on victims and focusing on offenders

Domestic Violence Action Month: Changing the conversation on victims and focusing on offenders

The story of Pullman track star, Lauren McCluskey, has swept the nation these last couple of days. She was killed earlier this week by a man she once dated.

Spokane Police said it can’t speak directly to Lauren’s case, since it happened in Utah. But they said, recent estimates report Spokane County has had more than 14,000 related to domestic violence, of which 4,000 generated police reports.

Now, they’re educating the public on signs to look out for in victims and how you can be a responsible bystander if you witness domestic violence.

“Somebody that’s willing to assault someone they supposedly love the most in the world, out in public, in front of everybody,” said Sgt. Jordan Ferguson, Spokane Police Department.

Sgt. Ferguson said by the time a victim calls the police, they’ve usually been abused six or seven times before that.

“When they finally do make that report, and decide they’ve had enough – that’s probably the most dangerous time in their life,” Sgt. Ferguson said.

He said the longer an abusive relationship lasts, the more at risk the victim is. It’s when their partner is most aggressive.

“If a victim has been strangled by their intimate partner, they are seven times more likely to be murdered,” Sgt. Ferguson said.

Now, police and YWCA are working to make sure DV cases never make it to that point. They’re calling on bystanders to take action.

“First thing you should do, we want the phones out, we want 911 being called so we can get officers en route,” Sgt. Ferguson said.

They’re also working to change the conversation and focus on the aggressor, rather than the victim.

“The offender is the one that has that psychological mindset that they are willing to hurt the person they’re supposed to love more in their life,” Sgt. Ferguson said.

Therapists said the nature of domestic violence is very isolating.

“Most of the time, survivors won’t have relationships with friends, with family members with people in their live to be able to reach out to them and say – hey, I need help, I’m in trouble,” said Melva Buyers, clinical therapist for YWCA.

Which is why if you see something – say something, if you can.

“A lot of the time, these survivors are really in fear for their own personal safety but truly just love their partner and are really just trying to make it work,” Buyers said.

Police said domestic violence offenders are the number one offenders to get violent with law enforcement.

YWCA offers a domestic violence hotline you can reach at 509-326-2255. The hotline is completely free and 24/7. People are standing by to help you.

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