What I want Fluvanna to know about domestic violence

Submitted by Sherri Stader, Director of the Victim/Witness Assistance Program of the Fluvanna Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time dedicated to remembering victims whose lives ended too soon as the result of domestic violence, offering safety and support for those currently in abusive relationships, and celebrating survivors who are now free from their abusers.

As the victim advocate for Fluvanna County, I work with victims every day. When thinking about this month specifically, I asked myself: What do I want the community to know about domestic violence? Here are a few thoughts:

  • Domestic violence affects people of all races, genders, religions and socioeconomic backgrounds.
  • Children are absolutely impacted negatively by witnessing abuse in the home.
  • Victims stay with their abusers for many reasons – such as fear that the abuser will hurt or kill them, will hurt or kill the children, will hurt or kill pets, or will take the children away from them. Other reasons they stay include finances, religious beliefs, and low self-esteem due to the abuse.
  • Abuse of a partner is not normal and is not okay. No one has the right to hit, choke, push, kick, slap, or spit on anyone.
  • Emotional and verbal abuse is also domestic violence. The abuser’s motive is power and control over the victim.
  • Trying to leave an abusive relationship can be difficult – but it is possible and there is help available.

For the many victims in Fluvanna County who find themselves in the criminal justice system due to domestic violence, please know that the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office is here to help, not to make things worse for your family.

Other things you should know: By law, the police must make an arrest in domestic violence cases when they can determine the primary aggressor, and there are options for handling the case in court. Just because someone is charged with domestic assault and battery doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to jail. Think of this time as an opportunity to hopefully make your situation better by addressing the issue. Perhaps your partner can finally get some help with substance abuse, mental health, and/or anger issues. Your interaction with the system doesn’t have to be a negative one.

To those who are charged with domestic assault and battery, this is not your partner’s fault. Again, the police have to make an arrest and the victim does not have the ability to simply drop the charge. That is up to the prosecutor’s office. Please do not blame your partner for your actions or the consequences.

If you are in a relationship where you are living in constant fear, you are put down, threatened, physically, emotionally or verbally abused, then you are suffering domestic violence and it is not normal. You do not deserve to be treated that way. Please reach out for help by calling the Fluvanna Victim/Witness Program at 434-591-1985, the Shelter for Help in Emergency (SHE) at 434-293-8509, or your local law enforcement agency.

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