Domestic Violence. Partner Violence. It’s Just Plain Violence. Keeping women, children and (far less often, but equally critical) men safe from violence in the home starts with using the correct terms to describe violence. It starts with victims standing up and saying they are being/have been abused. It starts with words.
In Champaign County, Illinois, nearly 1/4 of the calls to the police are for Domestic Violence. What are we doing about it? How are the cases handled? What policies are in place? We will ask those questions here and provide answers as we find them.
At first, it was personal. I was hurt by my husband and the officer who responded failed to make an arrest though I was visibly injured. The officer failed to inventory or photograph my injuries. The State’s Attorney chose not to prosecute based on a patrol officer’s opinion that a bathroom door was broken from the inside out (that was later refuted by expert testimony from a structural expert during OP testimony). I wanted answers about why my case was handled thusly, but what I ended up with was more questions about how ALL domestic calls are handled.
As it turned out, it has not yet been possible for me to take back my life simply by filing for a divorce and getting an Order of Protection. The harassment and violations continue. I work to heal, to do my therapy, to steer clear…and I am also speaking up and asking questions. A group of us are analyzing data and having casual conversations about what needs to change.
In Chris Hamelberg’s case, the abuse lasted the duration of our marriage and was all encompassing. I know that others are living thru situations that are similar and I want your experience to be different when you call for help:
And in legalese: “…certainly Ms. Hamelberg is not without some degree of fault so to speak due to the fact that certainly she had decided to confront Mr. Hamelberg in probably a manner that could have perhaps done better under cooler — under cooler sense or a cooler head but at the same time it’s clear to the Court that Mr. Hamelberg physically assaulted Ms. Hamelberg on the night of September 30 or the early morning hours of September [sic] 1.
I believe certainly that Ms. Hamelberg’s testimony with respect to the injuries that she received at the hands of Mr. Hamelberg were credible. I believe certainly she suffered numerous injuries including bruises on her wrist, a damaged left knee, a swollen ankle.
Mr. Hamelberg apparently has had other incidents which have caused damage to the furniture and holes in the walls at the residence, so I believe certainly there has been a history of domestic violence and anger control issues from Mr. Hamelberg.”
:The Honorable Judge Holly Clemons (Champaign County, Illinois, December 11, 2013)
How can you help protect women? Fairly easily:
Victims: You aren’t alone. If you are here, you might be wondering what to do, where to go for help, or even if what you’re experiencing is abuse. I know that I searched for every answer (mental imbalance, family history, a result of addictions?) before accepting the simplest, and most apparent answer: My husband wanted control over me and would go to almost any length to get it and keep it. If you are in a situation like this, please reach out to your nearest women’s shelter. They will help without judging and you don’t have to be ready to leave today…you can do this at your own pace. People want to help you. If you feel alone, you aren’t — it is a trick used to keep you in the loop of abuse, to feel isolated and afraid and dependent — and you can break out of it.