Domestic violence affects thousands of Missourians each year and often has devastating consequences. There are; however, many avenues of which victims may obtain assistance.
Domestic violence includes, but it not limited to, the following: assault, coercion, stalking, harassment, sexual assault, and unlawful imprisonment. The state of Missouri has adapted laws to protect victims of these crimes.
These crimes are often specified by the personal relationship between the victim and their abuser. The relationships are often defined as spouse, sibling, parent/grandparent, roommate, direct relative, or previously involved in a domestic relationship.
Signs of Domestic Violence:
There are often warning signs in a relationship which prelude a domestic violence situation. Victims are occasionally unaware of the nature of the relationship and the path which it may lead. Some of the warning signs include:
- Isolation - The suspect may try to isolate the victim from friends and family in attempt to gain constant control over the victim. This may include moving away from family, controlling phone contact, or determining when the victim can contact friends.
- Controlling behaviors - Often a victim is controlled by the suspect prior to any assault situations taking place. This can be regarding controlling wardrobe selections, phone contact, household responsibilities, etc. The suspect often controls contact with others by preventing accessibility to a vehicle, not allowing the subject to leave the residence, or diminishing the victim's ability to be alone.
- Aggressive verbal arguments - While couples may argue, a warning sign of domestic violence is apparent during these arguments. The beginning stages may include name calling, demeaning comments, or dominating the arguments. Suspects of domestic violence often assert their dominance over the victim in the early stages of a relationship.
- Extreme jealousy - While domestic violence suspects appear to be in control of the relationship, they often display tendencies of extreme jealousy. Insecurities of others paying the victim a compliment, constant supervision of who speaks to the victim, constant inspection of the victim's phone and social media, and maintaining supervision of the victim by calling or showing up at unexpected times are only a few examples of their controlling behavior.
- Generally aggressive - A domestic violence suspect often has violent tendencies when dealing with those outside the relationship as well. Suspects often exhibit violent mood swings, aggressive road rage, and appear pushy or arrogant around others.
- Drug or alcohol abuse - Drug or alcohol abuse is often a precursor of domestic violence. Often mood swings are increasingly aggressive when the suspect has consumed alcohol or drugs. Over dependence on the mood-altering drug leads to lack of control, resulting in violence.
- Overly apologetic - Domestic violence suspects often become increasingly apologetic after an incident. Promises of change in behavior or obtaining help with controlled substances are often used after an altercation to keep the victim in a relationship.
If you are involved in a domestic violence situation, the priority is maintaining your safety. When available, contact 911 to have a police officer respond to your location. If you can escape the location of your attacker, and it is safe to leave, move to a safe location. Create an emergency safety kit for easy access upon escape. The safety kit should include copies of your personal documents such as birth certificate and driver's license, a change of clothes, keys to your vehicle, cash, a cell phone or a list of emergency contact numbers, and any medications.
The officer will need to know a detailed account of the events that occurred on that date. Be prepared to answer questions regarding any physical contact between you and the suspect, specific recollections of events (i.e. closed or open fisted strikes, left or right hand used, defensive moves on your behalf such as scratching or pushing, any weapons used, location of all events, and initial reason for the incident), or current location of the suspect if you are no longer on scene with the suspect.
The officer will also request photographs of all injuries. The officer may photograph the surrounding area of the incident to add to the report. If at any time, you do not feel comfortable, inform the officer and alternate arrangements will be made to the best of the officer's ability. Detailed information of all parties involved, plus any parties within the residence at the time of event will also be requested. If injuries are severe, you will be requested to respond to the hospital. You will be offered transportation to the hospital if necessary.
There are many avenues to offer assistance in this time of need. The officer will provide information on how to obtain an ex parte against your suspect. If you need transportation to a shelter offering assistance, or a safe residence for the evening, the officer can accommodate your needs to the best of his ability.
What is an ex-parte?
An ex-parte is a court order, issued by a Missouri judge, preventing another subject from any abusive behavior toward another. The ex-parte is available to those 18 years of age or older. Juveniles are able to obtain an order by accompany of a parent or guardian. Ex-parte orders are issued only to those involved in domestic relationships, family relation, sharing a residence, past relationships, or actively being stalked or harassed.
To obtain an ex-parte, one must respond to the Greene County Circuit Clerk's Office inside the Greene County Courthouse (1010 N. Boonville Springfield, MO 65802). Normal business hours are 8am to 5pm Monday through Friday; however, exceptions are made in the event of an emergency. Transportation may be arranged if necessary. You will need to have detailed information regarding the suspect including: name, address, date of birth, employment address, and possible location. The courthouse will also request any police report case numbers with dates and times as necessary. Staff is available to assist with the completion of the applications.
Upon completion of the request, the judge will review the information and offer one of three options:
- Temporary order issued: This will be a temporary order protecting you from the suspect. There will be a court date issued, during which both parties will present their side of the events to the judge.
- Temporary order denied with court date issued: This is normally issued when the judge needs additional information regarding the incident. The judge will issue a court date for parties to present their recollection of events. There will be no order preventing the suspect from contacting you until the court date; however, if further incidents occur, information will be presented to the judge again.
- Order denied: This will be issued if the information presented does not meet the criteria for an order from the judge. This incident is classified as closed and does not have a court date issued.
There are several agencies in the area which assist victims of domestic violence and their families.
The Victim Center
24 hours hotline 417-864-SAFE (7233)
Family Violence Center/Harmony HouseFamily Violence Center/Harmony House
Hit No More
Division of Family Services
*Law enforcement can give information regarding safe houses and shelters in the area. Pamphlets with additional information can be provided at the Strafford Police Department.
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