Are protection orders enough to keep you safe? - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Are protection orders enough to keep you safe?

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JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)- Chances are right now there's a domestic violence situation going on right here in Region Eight.  For many of these domestic situations - they're so extreme an order of protection is filed to by a judge to keep a victim safe.

But for some of these cases, an order of protection isn't enough.  Which raises the question, is an order of protection really worth the paper it's written on?

An Order of Protection can only be filed when there's some sort of domestic abuse.  More times, than not, Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington tells Region 8 News the victims are women.  According to the Craighead County Circuit Clerk's office Since January 1st, there have been 34 order of protections filed in Craighead County alone. 

It is a substantial number.  But when it comes to life and death, can an order of protection really ensure your safety?

"A piece of paper cannot stop a bullet. It won't protect you," says Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington.

It's what Ellington reminds victims when they file an order of protection.  He says they are good to give the victim legal power.

But that was not the case for our first victim, who for her safety will remain anonymous.

"I didn't feel safe from the time I called police in the first town.  I thought that there was no hope for me here," said victim 1

She says problems started after her and her former boyfriend relocated because of money issues.

"He moved me to a rural area.  He became violent.  I called the police several times.  The last time I did call they told me the, that if they got called out again, we would both go to jail.  That's whenever the changes had to be made," said victim 1. 

With her kids involved, she contacted family and moved to an apartment 30 miles outside of her home town, filed an order of protection, got a job and tried and get her life back on track. 

"I came home from work and my house had been broken into.  It was ransacked, holes in the walls, the TV was busted.  Well I had to pay for that.  He had to be watching the house," said victim 1.

When she called police, officers said without an eye witness, nothing could be done.

She's not alone… 

 "If you're crazy and all that, you know, you can go out and do whatever you want.  But you know, somebody that really needs protection, they're not going to get it," said victim 2. 

She filed an order of protection after withstanding over a year of abuse, a miscarriage, and eight trips to the hospital.  

"He tried to hit me in the stomach when I was pregnant.  It had a broken jaw, bruises all over, broken ribs.  Every time I tried to leave, he'd threaten I'd kill you, kill my family," said victim 2.

She finally got the courage to move in with her mother who lived a different state and filed an order of protection.  But it didn't end there.  "He just kept coming on my mom's property.  I could see his shadow in the windows at night.  When it all come down to it, there was nothing that they could charge him with.  The only thing they charged him with was parking his car on the wrong side of the road," said victim 2. 

We asked Ellington if he believed the laws in place right now are enough.  "I think the laws that are in place, when they're enforced, when we go through the procedures, I don't know how much more stringent they could be," said Ellington.

Ellington says it more about the proof and being able to enforce them.

"There's no way we can be in everyone's life.  The law enforcement can't (be there all the time).  So the victim has to be vigilante.  But we try to step up and take steps to protect them," said Ellington. 

And both victims we talked to agree.  But even after time, the scars left behind are still visible.

"You're looking all the time.  You're looking for signs.  If you get a call at work, the first thing you think it's your kids.  The second thing you think, oh my gosh, did he find out I work here.  And it's almost like an emotional rape," said victim 1

Ellington also says, it's a vicious cycle, and many times people charged with domestic abuse often end up back in court for the same offense with the same or different victim.  Ellington also adds the second violation typically happens within 5 years of the first charge.

It's also important to add both victims' cases in this story happened in Arkansas.  The 22nd victim's situation also carried over in Missouri. 

It's vital for people who in up in these situation to seek help, either from family, or other sources out there.  If you or someone you know is in one of these type situations, there are so many organizations available to help.  Below is a list of various organizations and more information about the Arkansas Laws regarding an order of protection.

 

Domestic Violence Fact Sheets & Legal Information:

http://www.arlegalservices.org/domesticviolence

Seeking Help and Arkansas Women's Shelter Information:

http://www.aardvarc.org/dv/states/arkdv.shtml

http://www.domesticpeace.com/

 

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