"Out of Order"- Part 2

By: Tamara Evans
By: Tamara Evans

Many victims trying to get out of domestic violence relationships turn to Emergency Protective Orders and Domestic Violence Orders to keep them safe.

"I believe some people out there believe a sheet of paper protects you. It doesn't,” says KSP Trooper Todd Holder.

Trooper Todd Holder says these court orders don't necessarily stop the abusers from committing acts of violence.

"A sheet of paper is wonderful if you're dealing with someone acting rationally. If someone wants to harm someone, a sheet of papers not going to stop them and that's just the fact," says Holder.

One victim, who we'll call "Emily" says this was her situation. Her abuser broke his domestic violence order and didn't have to face any consequences.

"I have a current DVO on him and he has violated that six times that is on record, but he has violated it more than that," says Emily.

The penalty for violating a DVO is supposed to be jail time.

"Emily" says her abuser has been caught six times, but has not spent one night behind bars.

She says the court system is letting her abuser slip through the cracks. Unfortunately she isn't the only victim who feels this way.

"So many women are so scared and afraid to leave because of the system," says "Emily."

Jennifer Fugate is an advocate with the Barren River Area Safe Space.

She counsels victims when they go to the Bowling Green Police Station.

Fugate says even with these protective orders, many victims wind up being afraid of the system when nothing is done for violations.

"Victims can be in extreme danger. Victims can be extremely frustrated with the system and feel hopeless and feel like there's nobody helping her," says Fugate.

Fugate says the protective orders are effective but they are only as good as the system that's helping them.

"Ultimately the power lies in the hands of the judges," says Fugate.

"The system that’s been set up is absolutely perfect, it truly is. What or how people work the system past that point has nothing to do with the system," says Holder.

Holder says the judicial system is ultimately responsible for punishing these abusers, not the officers.

"The judge and the prosecutor are the ones who take the time and sit down and try to work the problem out and try to alleviate anybody’s suffering. I can't do that and our officers can't. We're the quick fix. They're the long-term care," says Holder.

Warren County Commonwealth Attorney Chris Cohron says that he thinks the responsibility does lie in the courts.

"I think we do have good laws in place. I think that now the laws we have, it's up to the courts and prosecutors to make sure they are applied effectively," says Cohron.

Cohron says often these cases are difficult to handle because sometimes the victims don't cooperate.

"I've had victims get up on the witness stand and in my opinion recant their testimony because they would rather go back to their abuser than let the court system do its work," says Cohron.

Victims and advocates say however there is still more the judicial system can do.

"Increased enforcement of protective order violations, increased referrals to offender treatment programs, monitoring to make sure the offender did go and were successful in the completion of that program," says Fugate.

"I feel that the system is not aware of how serious things like this are and I don't think they're educated to be of help to women like me," says "Emily.”

It seems everyone we spoke with all agreed that there is still more to be done to help victims of domestic violence, but that legislation for domestic violence has come a long way!

Coming up Thursday night in "Out of Order" we'll take a look at the legislation in place for domestic violence and how lawmakers and officers are trying to keep victims safe.

If you are a victim of domestic violence and want to get help you can call the Barren River Area Safe Space at 1-800-928-1183.


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