Couple in Shootings Were in Divorce Case, an article from The [River Bend] Telegraph, illustrates some commonly held misconceptions about domestic violence – misconceptions that cost lives.
A man reportedly murdered his wife and then attempted suicide, days before a divorce hearing to determine whether the husband must move out of the couple’s home during their divorce.
After being dispatched to their home, the police allegedly looked around the outside of the house, then contacted the phone company about calling the couple, then waited around for a realtor to give them easy access to the quiet, darkened home, and then methodically searched the house – until a gunshot rang out.
Police accounts emphasized that the relatives who called police only asked them to check on the couple and did not explicitly warn them of the potential for domestic violence. And that the wife had never called the police for assistance with domestic violence.
As it happens, according to the article, the husband was previously convicted of manslaughter and some misdemeanors – but not of a crime of domestic violence.
Police found the wife dead – lying on top of the phone, as though she had been trying to call for help.
The wife’s divorce petition cited “extreme mental cruelty” by the husband.
The only positive thing that can come out of such tragic incidents should be increased education and training for police officers.
Their consciousness should be raised to the fact that domestic violence victims frequently don’t report real, actual incidents of domestic violence, out of fear, fear of their assailant – and fear that the police will make light of their situation or, worse, side with the assailant.
Their consciousness should also be raised to the fact that lack of previous domestic violence complaints does not preclude a very real and present danger.
If police were to receive more domestic violence training, maybe more lives could be saved – even where there is no police record of allegations of domestic violence.