Effingham County law enforcement officers and the community at large got a serious lesson in domestic violence on Thursday from domestic violence expert Derek Marchman.
“I commend you on what you’re doing,” said retired Judge William Neville who spoke during the luncheon in between the two training workshops.
Marchman, an independent consultant on behavioral issues and a professor at Gordon College in Barnesville, consults on many behavioral topics including dating violence, cultural diversity and character issues.
His training coincides with the Justice Department’s National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, which was from April 22-28.
Marchman addressed the dynamics of domestic violence on Thursday.
“It helps address the perceptions of victims,” he explained.
According to Marchman, the number one killer of women in this country is domestic violence. And it accounts for 80 percent of law enforcement officer deaths. Seventy-five percent of these slain officers are killed in the first minute of arriving at the scene of a domestic dispute.
“This is not law enforcement’s problem; this is the community’s problem,” he said. “We have to hold the bad guy accountable.”
Glenda King, executive director of the Effingham County Victim Witness Assistance Program, stressed that she and others are working to energize the county’s domestic violence task force.
“We really want to have more participation,” she said.
Marchman emphasized the need for the community to change its perceptions of how domestic violence victims should act.
Victims often do things that make the very people who want to help them become annoyed with them.
“Why doesn’t she leave him,” Marchman asked rhetorically. This is what we all ask, he noted. However, 80 percent of women who die at the hands of an abuser are killed after they leave.
In addition, the victim may lie, recant her story, bond her abuser out, blame herself, not show up for the court hearing, etc., which frustrates those trying to help.
He stressed that these are all normal behaviors for a victim.
“Don’t get mad about it — utilize it,” Marchman said.
Of all the material Marchman covered in the four-hour training he said understanding these normal behaviors is the most important thing to take away from the class.
And it’s not just the women who are victims of the abuser, he said that 50 percent of batterers who abuse their wives also abuse the children in the household. The batterer, in effect, holds the entire house hostage.
Being able to remain anonymous only helps to continue the violence.
“We need to make it public,” Marchman told the crowd.
The whole community, according to him, needs to put a spotlight on the abuser, so that he can no longer hide his behavior from those outside the home.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in four women will experience domestic violence at some point in her lifetime. The highest rates of domestic violence happen to young women ages 16-24.
Marchman pointed out that abusers come from all backgrounds; no race, socioeconomic class or religion is exempt.
“It is everywhere,” he said.