Opinion

Domestic violence is a cycle you can help break

Sheriff Rob Nou - Contributed photo
Sheriff Rob Nou
— image credit: Contributed photo

By Sheriff Rob Nou

Domestic violence takes many ugly, destructive forms.

It is far more common than many in society want to acknowledge, and far more dangerous than many realize.

Family violence between spouses, intimate partners, parents and children or siblings is often concealed in shame, thought of as a “private matter,” or cloaked in threats of further violence. Every non-vehicular homicide in San Juan County for several decades has been a domestic violence homicide.

For law enforcement officers, domestic violence calls are always high risk and potentially dangerous.

Alcohol and other drugs are frequently a component in a domestic violence call, and often add yet another layer in an already volatile, emotionally charged environment.

Every year across our country, police officers are injured and killed in responding to domestic violence calls. These are among the most dangerous calls police are required to handle.

Throughout San Juan County, domestic violence calls are among the most frequent type of call handled by the sheriff’s office.

Fundamentally, it is our duty to make sure everyone is safe and to try to protect victims from further harm. If no crime has been committed, information is provided and referrals made to other agencies and service providers in the community to prevent further incidents.

If there has been criminal conduct, we then have a duty to take the appropriate law enforcement actions.

Relationships that include domestic violence are unhealthy.

Domestic violence related behaviors are cyclical, and will escalate both in frequency and severity over time without some kind of intervention. Children living in homes with domestic violence will learn those behaviors and accept them as “normal,” predisposing them to grow up to be either the batterer or the victim as they choose partners in adolescence and into adult life.

As a community, we cannot afford to turn a blind eye to domestic violence. It is far too destructive to families and especially children.

Be the friend, the co-worker or the relative who will ask the questions about the unusual injuries, or find out what’s going on when someone seems uncharacteristically withdrawn.

Be the neighbor willing to call 911 when the neighbors are screaming at each other or fighting in the yard.

Domestic violence can thrive in isolation, behind closed doors.

It is often all about power and control over others, through threats, intimidation and violence. We need to pull back the curtain on domestic violence and get those issues out in the open.

We need to break this cycle and prevent further harm.

The sheriff’s office takes calls of domestic violence very seriously. We work closely in cooperation with the prosecutor’s office, victim services,

DVSAS, the courts and a myriad of community based service providers to protect victims and break this potentially deadly cycle.

 

— Sheriff Rob Nou is nearing the end of the first year of a four-year term as San Juan County’s elected sheriff

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