"Out of Order"- Part 3

By: Tamara Evans
By: Tamara Evans

Getting out of an abusive relationship isn't always easy for victims of domestic violence

Some victims become frusturated with the judicial system when they turn to it for help and don't see the results they need to keep them safe.

"Sometimes people feel helpless like they're not getting the help and unfortunately they don't tell people they're not getting the help they feel like they need", says 22nd District State Representative Rob Wilkey.

Representative Rob Wilkey has served on the Governor's Council for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and on the State Crime Commission.

He says lawmakers are working to keep victims safe.

"We have been working on domestic violence and sexual assault legislation over the past 10 years pretty steadily to increase protections of victims of violence and sexual assault", says Wilkey.

"The laws of Kentucky have grown in leaps and bounds in the last 30 years since the insertion of domestic violence and child abuse protective laws", says BRASS advocate Jennifer Fugate.

Jennifer Fugate is an advocate with the Barren River Area Safe Space and says she too has seen more being done for domestic violence legislation.

Victims have 24-hour access to Emergency Protective Orders under Kentucky law.

An EPO is a court order to help keep abusers away.

Fugate says even with these laws in place many still view domestic violence as just a "family problem".

"Domestic violence is a crime, not just someone's private business", says Fugate.

Kentucky State Police Trooper Todd Holder agrees that domestic violence is a crime.

He says over the years he's seen more victims starting to speak out.

"I think nowadays more women are empowered than they've ever been before and they realize that that shove, smack or push, that hit isn't acceptable in our society and shouldn't be"

Holder says domestic violence cases are the main situations officers find themselves responding to.

"That's what we do!" When people think of police they think of writing tickets and finding criminals. What we really do is we end up being a referee to alot of domestic disputes", says Holder.

To help keep victims and officers safe whenever the Kentucky State Police get a call they use the LINK system which stands for the Law Information Network of Kentucky.

This system allows dispatchers to look up information on people before officers get to the scene.

The information available includes such things as if they have an Emergency Protective Order or Domestic Violence Order against them, their past acts of agression....who's actually supposed to be on the property...and who is in violation of the protective order.

"When you can go to a call and someone can tell you what past acts of violence have occurred and what person is the victim and who needs help, theres alot of questions that really don't have to be asked once you get there", says Holder.

Holder says this system has changed the face of law enforcement on domestic violence.

"It does give the police officers a tool, and instrument to alleviate whatever dangers theat they might run into that very moment or that night."

Wilkey says Kentucky does have strong systems in place and laws that are protecting domestic violence victims. It all comes down to the enforcement of these laws.

"Unfortunately there is not uniform implementation of the law from county to county. It depends on people in the court system in each place, how they interpret and implement the law, and if the victims rights aren't being protected, then they need to make sure their name is heard at some level from somebody to know theres a problem with the way the laws are being implemented that's something we as legislators would want to know", says Wilkey.

Wilkey says that he is currently working to get domestic violence legislation targeted toward teenagers as well.

He says currently 1 in 5 young people ages 16 to 18 that are dating experience physical violence or sexual assault in their relationships and that he has talked to other parents who are concerned that kids too should have the same protections as adults have.

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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