One in Four: Community effort to stop domestic violence

Posted at 5:59 PM, May 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-05 08:36:02-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. --  One in four women are victims of domestic abuse, but officials say it's one of the most under reported forms of violence.

Grand Rapids Police say they receive about 100 domestic violence reports a week.  They say domestic abuse reports are some of the most dangerous to respond to because the chance of dealing with a murder during one of those calls is 75 percent higher.

Many of the people who commit domestic abuse are repeat offenders, and restraining orders and no contact orders don't always work.

"It is a tool that we use because if a perpetrator or a suspect is violating a PPO [Personal Protection Order] we can investigate stalking charges.  It is something where just because you have it doesn't mean you are going to be safe," said Detective Sgt. Chad McKersie with the Grand Rapids Police Department.

Mary Teske had a restraining order when she became the victim of horrifying abuse at the hands of her ex-boyfriend.

"I had a restraining order on him before," Teske said, "and he would always tell me 'that's just really a piece of paper honey.  What's really going to keep you safe if I want you?'"

Kent County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Chris Becker says in many cases, abusers can be hard to put away.

"They are going to get out, across the board, unless they kill somebody," Becker said.

Kent County officials fight domestic violence as a team, deploying the Domestic Abuse Response Team (DART), something that is unique in the state of Michigan.

"The team is designed specifically for domestic assault victims and their families,"  McKersie said. "They come out and give them brochures and refer them to social services and crisis services to help them out."

Grand Rapids Police say their reported aggravated and non aggravated assaults having to do with domestic violence have gone unchanged the last  six years.  But Eileen McKeever, the program director of domestic violence crisis services at the YWCA, says it doesn't surprise her.

"It doesn't shock me, because when we talk about domestic violence statistics and what does that look like, the numbers might stay the same, but it could mean there is more awareness."

The YWCA, Grand Rapids Police department, Safe Haven  Ministries, and many other organizations in Kent County are all about awareness and preventative measures in domestic violence.

The results might not be obvious, but experts believe it's saving lives every day.

If you are in immediate danger or feel unsafe, call 911.

YWCA 24-Hour Confidential Crisis Line: 616-451-2744

For all other YWCA Domestic Violence Services call 616-459-4652 (business hour only). For more information on other services you can head to their website.

Safe Haven's 24/7 hotline is 616-452-6664.