In the case of domestic violence

First in a series

by Anthony G. “Tony” Spencer

Every week, judges in the Northern Neck hear multiple cases of domestic violence. In virtually every case, the violent act that led to the criminal charge is only the tip of the iceberg of the offender’s regime of power and control over the victim.

A court case usually involves only one act of violence against an intimate partner who often has been subjected to months or years of physical intimidation, threats and control of finances, phones and access to family and friends.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the Rappahannock Record is doing its part by publishing a series of articles this month to raise awareness of and present possible solutions to the epidemic of violence in the home.

Domestic violence is widespread. One in four women experience physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.

Crimes of domestic violence are much less likely to be reported than other offenses, with less than 25% of such crimes being reported to police.

Headquartered in Warsaw, The Haven offers shelter and support services to victims of domestic and sexual violence in the Northern Neck. Typically, The Haven provides about 5,000 nights of emergency shelter a year, primarily to women and children.

If you would like to help reduce domestic and sexual violence in our community, here are ways you can help:

• Teach your children that violence is never acceptable behavior.

• Speak out against domestic and sexual violence to your family and friends.

• Take a stand against entertainment and songs that trivialize domestic or sexual violence.

• Stand up against anyone who blames victims.

• Donate time and/or money to The Haven (www.havenshelter.org). Despite providing much-needed assistance to victims in the Northern Neck, The Haven receives limited funding from local governments. 

• If you suspect that someone may be the victim of domestic or sexual violence, report your suspicions to your Sheriff’s Office. These crimes usually occur in secret, and your report might be the first step in helping someone get out from a bad situation.    

Anthony G. “Tony” Spencer serves as Commonwealth’s Attorney for Lancaster County.