BATON ROUGE, La (BRPRPOUD) – Domestic violence includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically and in East Baton Rouge, there has been an increase with a current number of 25 deaths in comparison to last year’s 19.
Executive Director John Price of the Iris Domestic Violence Center said stay-at-home orders during the height of the pandemic left victims trapped at home with their abusers.
“They don’t get the normal opportunity to get away, use their cell phones, and call to seek services and assistance. This morning I had a woman that’s been married 37 years calling, talking about the abuse that’s been going on for 37 years,” said Price.
Price said understanding what victims are going through is one of the first steps in helping them. He also mentions being strategic when approaching a domestic violence victim and when confronting them on the abuse that you may be observing.
“You don’t have a job, and you don’t have a car, and you don’t have a bank account in your name, and you don’t have a family willing to assist you or friends. What options do you have in order for you to leave? Most of these people have also defended this person from their families and loves ones, they don’t want to admit what’s been going on,” said Price.
For many of these crimes, the abusers aren’t first-time offenders and while Price suggests more can be done on the judicial side, Sgt. Robert Cook with Baton Rouge Police Department said law enforcement can only do as much as a witness’s cooperation allows them to.
In an annual domestic violence report by the District Attorney’s office, DA Hillar Moore said, “Most domestic violence reports his office has reviewed receive dismissal request because victims are either coerced into dropping charges or terrified of retaliation.”
Price hopes that a change in COVID-19 restrictions will allow victims to make empowered decisions for themselves.
“I don’t know the fears and concerns that that person has so we’re going to support their decision, whatever it may be, and that’s how the public should treat it too unless you’re walking in their shoes, you don’t know what that feels like,” said Price.
If you or someone you know is in need of domestic violence resources call the IRIS Domestic Violence Center 24 hour crisis line at (225) 389-3001 or visit www.stopdv.org.