Fort Mill Times

Guest opinion: We can minimize domestic violence

Renamed in slain sheriff’s Officer Mike Doty’s honor, Carowinds Boulevard is a reminder that domestic violence is an unfortunate and pervasive problem, both for victims and officials serving and protecting them. Ambushed with three other officers, responding to a recent domestic violence call, his death is an opportunity for the community to address it, possibly preventing future injuries and fatalities, Charlotte Mecklenburg Police also recently ambushed, outside its headquarters.

The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500 percent.

Many may assume that “fear” alone is sufficient justification for legal action when a spouse reports abuse, as the victim did Jan. 17, it is not. It is important that abuse be reported immediately, accurately, and clearly. The reports are and documentation are records indicating the likelihood and probability of escalating violence. Such facts enable the courts to intervene with arrests and restrictive orders. Many victims suffer prolonged abuse because they fail to report incidents accurately, if at all. Why? Shame, fear for their children’s safety, lack of credit, religious convictions, finances, fear of homelessness or a myriad of other reasons.

Readers may equate “allowed perpetrator to return home despite victim’s fears” with negligence branding judges unsympathetic to domestic violence victims seeking assistance. The implication that Thomas McCall was freed to kill is hyperbolic rhetoric at its worst. In fact, judges must rule on documented abuse and conviction records, which McCall lacked.

Twice as many families are impacted by domestic violence as by breast cancer. Mecklenburg County has led N.C. in domestic violence related homicides for several years. Our local 911 system has averaged 35,000 to 36,000 domestic violence emergency calls yearly since 2003, involving nearly 6,500 domestic violence cases yearly.

It’s unfair to blame victims for the cruel realities of domestic violence. The perpetrators themselves are to blame. By failing to report abuse, victims subject themselves and their children to harm. Officer Doty’s death illustrates the danger associated with domestic violence and the importance of safety planning, escaping it.

Domestic violence is a crime. But assaulting your wife or girlfriend carries a lesser penalty than assaulting your pet. We can change that. Why do we get upset with Michael Vick and dog fighting rings, but hesitate to raise our voices against domestic violence?

We have the power to stop domestic violence. Through legislators and public opinion we need to say in a loud voice that it is not OK to beat your wife or girlfriend or intimate partner. It’s through our efforts that victims may finally be heard. Will you join me? We could possibly save a life.

There are currently 3 domestic violence and abuse shelters and programs in Rock Hill, SC with 1 offering a hotline and 1 offering emergency shelter. Outside of this city and still nearby, you can also find help at these 12 domestic violence and abuse shelters and programs in places like Lancaster, Charlotte, and Gastonia. If you have questions, consider reading these domestic violence facts and statistics, our archive of 532 domestic violence articles, recommended books on domestic violence, or these insightful stories about domestic violence survivors.

Let’s also honor Sheriff's Office Deputy Mike Doty, by reporting and addressing domestic violence, possibly saving a life.

Patrick Burris is a Charlotte resident and an anti domestic violence advocate and volunteer.