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Battling domestic violence in Prince George's County

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Published on: Wednesday, October 09, 2013

By Tauren Dyson

Domestic violence has followed Regina Tucker most of her life. Growing up, she watched her father abuse her mother regularly. Then at age 20, after she got married, she said the cycle continued.

“I ended up marrying someone who came from a family of domestic violence himself,” said Tucker, 46. “I said to myself, ‘I’m not going to go through the same thing my mother went through.’”

Tucker divorced her husband four years ago. A few weeks ago, she read a message on her Facebook page about an event at the 2013 Domestic Violence Conference at the Beltway Church of Christ on Saturday.

The conference was started to bring attention to Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October.

“People are still not willing to talk about it. They hide out of fear and shame,” said Ellen Floyd, Beltway Church of Christ Domestic Violence Committee chair. “We have domestic violence in the church as well as outside the church.”

Floyd collected various domestic violence agencies and organizations, both county-sponsored and nonprofits, to apprise the audience of the different ways they can fight domestic violence.

A World Health Organization report released earlier this year found that approximately 33 percent of women globally have been assaulted by a current or former intimate partner. About 40 percent of women killed had their lives ended at the hand of an intimate partner.

In 2006, Yvette Cade was doused with gasoline and set on fire by her ex-husband in a Clinton T-Mobile store.

“We should’ve really stepped up our (domestic violence) program back then,” said Sgt. Matthew Barber, Prince George’s County Police Department. “So, as our officers go out to there, we’re paying more attention to what we call primary aggressors.”

In 2012, Prince George’s County Police responded to 13,000 domestic related calls, Barber said. This year, he said, there have been nine domestic-related homicides, four involving intimate partners and five household related.

Officers now administer an 11-question lethality assessment to the complainant to determine whether the perpetrator could act with deadly violence toward the victim.

Also upon arriving to a domestic violence call, police will make an arrest if they see a scar or mark on the complainant. Prince George’s County Police investigators are now more active in scouring social media platforms to search for clues in domestic violence cases.

But Barber said simply changing the way the department polices domestic violence incidences won’t change the culture of the crime. Law enforcement officials have reached out to community organizations in order to help curb domestic violence within the county.

One option for abuse victims is the House of Ruth, an organization that provides shelter for women and children.

Another option is the Family Crisis Center, which helps women who are looking to escape abusive situations. The 55-bed facility provides shelter for abused women and their children and anger management and intervention programs for male and female abusers. Most of the programs are free or available for a nominal fee.

“There’s two main components at the Family Crisis Center: one for the victims and one for the perpetrators,” said Michael Pegues, Family Crisis Center counselor.

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