Representing the county

An act of domestic violence occurs every 15 seconds. Still, it is uncommon to want to intervene in a domestic violence situation. Many feel domestic violence is not their problem, or they simply do not feel comfortable addressing a situation of such a personal nature. It is not easy. It may not be easy, but it must be done. Whether you are an employer, a family member, a friend, a co-worker or a next door neighbor of a victim, you should intervene. Primarily, you should do so because it is the right thing to do. Additionally, as an employer, economically, it is cheaper to save a current employee who has been valuable to the company than to recruit, test and retrain a replacement. Legally, OSHA imposes a general duty on all employers to provide a safe work environment. An employer could incur additional workers’ compensation expenses if the victim is injured while at the work place. Other areas of impact include increased sick leave, increased absenteeism, reduced productivity and increased medical expenses. If you are hesitant to intervene because you are not sure someone is a victim of domestic violence, watch for these signs: the victim tells you, or someone else, he or she has been injured by a domestic partner; the person shows feelings of fear and social withdrawal; bruises or physical complaints that show evidence of assault; intermittent crying and/or outbursts of anger while talking with a domestic partner on the telephone or in person; frequent and prolonged periods of depression, irritability, anxiety and apathetic withdrawal; increased absenteeism or reduced productivity at work; lack of concentration. Intervening, or sticking your nose into someone else’s business, is the right and only thing to do in this case. Not only is the safety of the person you suspect to be a victim at stake, but so is the safety of any children who may be involved. The best approach is to be up front. Confront the person you suspect is a victim of domestic violence. First make sure you’re in an environment that is comfortable for the victim and conducive to being open and honest. Begin by explaining your concern for his or her safety and then addressing the signs which led you to believe the person is a victim of domestic violence. Encourage the victim not to blame themselves for the abuse and to place responsibility on the perpetrator and remind the victim that abuse is illegal and criminal. Often times, victims are concerned for their safety by admitting the abuse. Reinforce that the victim’s safety is your number one concern as is their emotional, financial and physical well-being. Discuss various options with the victim, legal, housing, counseling and financial assistance. In Brady, alone, we have many resources available to victims of domestic violence. The McCulloch County Sheriff’s Office and the Brady Police Department are available to investigate allegations of domestic violence. My office is available to help victims obtain protective orders through the district court to keep the perpetrators away from the victims. If a protective order is granted and the perpetrator violates the protective order, the perpertrator will be subjected to further potential misdemeanor and/or felony penalties. West Texas Legal Aid Services provides free legal advice to those who qualify financially for their services. A representative from Legal Aid come to Brady every month on the first Wednesday of the month. Legal Aid is given on a walk-in basis beginning at 10 a.m. in the courtroom on the second floor of the County Courthouse. McCulloch County has a new shelter for victims of domestic violence. The Haven provides a safe, transitional place to stay while the victims and their families can get back on their feet. For those who are willing to accept the help, there is help to be freely given.

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