Sarah's Journey (part 1 of 3)
16 December 2016, 12:51p
We are often asked to describe the typical client’s stay in shelter. While each story is unique, here is one survivor’s journey with CARDV.
2:00AM- Sarah* answers a knock at the door of her home that she shares with her husband, Aaron*, and their children--two Albany police officers are on the other side. A neighbor called the police because they heard aggressive shouting and yelling coming from the home.
Sarah just wants to have a safe home for her children to grow up in.
Once on the scene the officers speak with Sarah and Aaron independently and take their statements. In certain situations, when the evidence of domestic violence is sufficient, the abuser is immediately arrested and taken to the local jail. This detention can last a few hours to overnight and provides the survivor a critical window to seek safety and resources. This is the case for Sarah—Aaron is arrested and taken to the Linn County Jail where he will stay overnight. CARDV works closely with local law enforcement so that when police respond to a domestic violence call, it is standard procedure to connect the survivor with CARDV via the hotline.
During the interview, the officer keeps a special eye out for any additional risk factors indicating that the domestic violence situation may escalate to domestic homicide. Research shows that when police identify a high risk situation and connect the survivor with a service agency like CARDV, the survivor has a lower risk of dying at the hands of her/his abuser. In talking with Sarah, the officer learns that this is not the first time Aaron has physically hurt her. Additional risk factors such as the presence of a rifle in the home and that Aaron controls most of her daily activities put Sarah at a high risk of future violence or death. The officer tells Sarah about CARDV’s services and offers her the police cell phone to speak with a CARDV advocate. Sarah could use the house phone, but it is often safer for a survivor to use a phone that their abuser cannot access the call history. The officer stays with Sarah while she makes the call.
2:30AM- Exhausted and scared Sarah tells the CARDV advocate what happened. On one hand Sarah is relieved that she is safe with the officer, but on the other hand she is scared about what will happen when Aaron gets released. Sarah is a stay-at-home mom and takes care of the house and children. She has no access to their car that Aaron uses to get to work, nor the bank account or cell phone. She has many concerns: What did she do to deserve this? Will Aaron be angry when he is released? Does she want to stay with him? If not, how will she pay the bills and buy groceries? The advocate listens and offers information, options and resources to Sarah--most importantly the advocate believes Sarah and tells her the violence was not her fault. Sarah is most concerned about her safety and decides she wants to apply for a restraining order. They can safely stay in their home for the night since Aaron will not be released until the next day. The advocate makes a plan for CARDV’s Legal Advocate to pick Sarah and her children up in the morning.
3:00AM- The officer finishes talking with Sarah and gives her the CARDV hotline number in case she needs anything during the night. Sarah puts the kids back to bed (they were woken up with all the commotion). She sets her alarm for 6:00AM and goes to bed herself. They all have a big day in the morning, but at least they are safe tonight.
Click here to read part two of Sarah's Journey.
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, please call. All calls are FREE and CONFIDENTIAL. Se habla español. (541)754-0110 or (800)927-0197
*We have changed names and removed any identifying information for confidentiality. This picture is a reenactment.