We would like to introduce you to our guest blogger, Riverside County Assistant District Attorney Gerald Fineman. He supervises our Eastern Region and is the co-chair of the California District Attorneys Association’s Domestic Violence Committee.
Please read his very important article about domestic violence. Then share it with everyone you know. The importance of helping those who may be domestic violence victims cannot be stressed enough. Helpful information for victims can be found at the end of this article.
When I tell someone, I have spent the bulk of my career prosecuting domestic violence cases, they often shake their head. They tell me they do not understand how I do that. Why would I want to prosecute a case where the victim does not want help? They tell me, “I mean, if it is really that bad, why don’t they just leave?”
Right now. Go ahead. Reach into your wallet or purse and grab all the cash you have. Taking just that, run out the door. Don’t forget to take your children and pets with you. Go. Now.
How far can you go? Here in the desert where I work it’s going to be cool today, might fall short of 100 degrees. You are on the street. You ran out without keys, you had to leave. Your children are in tow. How far can you walk?
“But I have credit cards.” You do, but they’ve been shut off by your abuser, so all you have is that handful of cash.
“But wait, I can call a friend.” Perhaps. Remember, they gave you that phone. Your call will let them know exactly where you are going. In fact, the GPS on the phone will let them know exactly where you are at any moment. You are not safe.
“Well, I will just go to shelter.” Hopefully, they have room and will let you stay. Even if they have an opening, there are limitations to shelter. Most shelters want you to remain inside the shelter for a set time period. A victim’s coming and goings could result in the abuser following them back to the location and creating a safety risk for others. Have pets? Most shelters won’t allow pets. Have a male teenage child? That could pose a risk to others in shelter. Can the victim meet the other requirements of shelter? Ever been to a shelter? I have had the opportunity to visit several within the state. While I mean no disrespect to these facilities, they are communal living situations that fall short of what many would consider adequate housing.
Why don’t they leave. In short, it is just not that easy.
Abusers utilize power and control to keep their victims in the relationship. This means isolating them, limiting their access to finances, threatening and intimidating them, using the children, and other means of control.
The next time you hear about domestic violence, focus on what the abuser does to keep the victim in the relationship and not on the victim. Then, you will understand why they do not just leave.
If you are in an abusive relationship or know someone who is, help is available.
A family justice center is a multidisciplinary facility that can provide victims assistance on navigating whether to leave or how to stay safe if they remain. This can even occur without making any contact with law enforcement. In Riverside County there are four Safe Family Justice Centers: https://safefjc.org/
Riverside: 3900 Orange Street, Riverside (951) 955-6100
Southwest: 30045 Technology Dr. Ste 101, Murrieta (951) 304-5680
Indio: 82-995 Hwy 111, Ste 103, Indio (760) 863-8363
Temecula: 28910 Pujol Street, Temecula (951) 587-3900
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (7233)
Gerald Fineman is an Assistant District Attorney with the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, assigned to the Eastern Region. He is Co-Chair of the California District Attorneys Association Domestic Violence Committee and a Co-chair of the Legal Committee for the Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention.