Area not immune to domestic violence
GLADSTONE — October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). In recognition of the DVAM, Michigan State Police, including the local Gladstone Post, is seeking to educate residents about domestic violence and the resources available to friends and family to help support victims.
Community Service Trooper Dale Hongisto, of the Michigan State Police – Gladstone Post, provided some insight on just how prevalent domestic violence is in Delta, Menominee and Schoolcraft counties.
“Well, I don’t have the exact numbers or anything, of course, but … domestic violence is certainly an issue in our area — it’s no different here than anywhere else. Our troopers are sent on domestic violence calls quite regularly, unfortunately,” Hongisto said.
Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior in which one person uses physical, sexual or emotional abuse to control another person. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on average 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States.
Hongisto explained domestic violence calls are some of the most dangerous calls police officers respond to, as situations can change rapidly and unpredictably.
“Generally on a call that comes out as a domestic violence situation, we try to send more than one trooper to that particular call because it can be dangerous,” he said. “Occasionally, there can be knives or guns or any sort of weapon involved. Any particular situation can be very volatile.”
He added, when troopers are sent to domestic violence calls the protocol is to get both sides of the story and based on those statements and possible visual injuries, troopers make a determination on whether or not someone is arrested or the couple is separated for the day/night.
Every domestic violence victim has the right to obtain a copy of the police report and file a petition requesting a personal protection order in court.
Domestic violence can take on many different looks.
“Everybody pictures the ‘normal’ domestic violence as having injuries, but sometimes that’s not the case,” Hongisto said.
He said domestic violence situations can range from serious physical assaults to stalking, where physical signs of abuse are not present.
According to Hongisto, when it comes to someone being abused, there are multiple ways for people around the victim to help him or her.
He said people can help the victim of abuse by educating themselves about domestic violence, remembering there is no “quick fix” to domestic violence, making sure the victim knows you believe them, listening attentively, not blaming the victim for what happened to them, taking the victim’s fears seriously and expressing sincere concern, not making judgments, and reminding the victim that what has occurred is not their fault.
Hongisto said nobody has the right to lay hands on someone and assault them.
“If you’re in a situation that involves (domestic violence), (you) shouldn’t be scared to call the police, call our department,” he said.
When it comes to local resources, there are local county Prosecutor’s Office Victim Services Units — which can be contacted through the prosecutor’s office, Hannahville Victim Services at 906-280-2657, and Tri-County Safe Harbor at its 24-hour crisis line 1-800-682-1649 or 906-789-1166.
People can also check out the Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence website at www.mcadsv.org or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE(7233).