Augusta University hosts panel on policing domestic violence

Augusta University hosts panel on policing domestic violence
Augusta University hosts panel on policing domestic violence

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)- As a child, Jennifer Harper experienced domestic violence. As an adult, she policed it.

“It’s nice to help to educate people and help them know they have options to get out,” she said.

Wednesday night, she sat on a panel at AU about responding to domestic violence.

The former military police officer says the task can be frustrating.

“A lot of times, they’ll call us to respond, but then once we get there, they’ve had time to calm down and they start thinking of all the issues that may arise,” Harper said. “And they don’t want to cause conflict, and they don’t want to be put out on the street, so they won’t push the charges. And we can’t make them.”

She says dependence holds victims back.

“Most abusers try to push all your friends away annd to isolate you so you have no one to turn to,” she said.

Many are also economically reliant on an abusive spouse.

“They’re scared of being a single parent and they’re scared of nor being able to provide for their children or themselves,” she said.

But staying with an abuser can be fatal for adults and children who get caught in the crossfire.

“[It[ spilled over into violence…he shot her four time in the chest and then shot himself,” said Officer Samuel Long of the Grovetown Department of Public Safety, remembering a call to which he responded.

But Harper escaped abuse herself, and says other victims can too.

“When we find out that they have an abusive spouse and they’re ready to leave, we have like a network we connect with each other and we find a safe place for them to go and stay until we get them set up with restraining orders or until their abuser’s in jail, help them get a job, a place to stay, get them set up on the way to go,” she said.

The event was part of a series that AU is putting on for domestic violence awareness month.

If you or someone you know is a victim, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

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