Domestic violence in Berryville; searching for help for battered women | Arkansas Blog

Monday, June 16, 2014

Domestic violence in Berryville; searching for help for battered women

Posted By on Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 10:46 AM

click to enlarge ABUSE VICTIM: Laura Aceves in 2009 photo. - HUFFINGTON POST
  • Huffington Post
  • ABUSE VICTIM: Laura Aceves in 2009 photo.
Melissa Jeltsen, writing for Huffington Post, relates how orders of protection didn't prevent the 2013 slaying of a Berryville woman, Laura Aceves, who'd been a repeat victim of abuse by a former boyfriend.

The article doesn't paint a pretty picture of Carroll County.

Sheriff Bob Grudek, 71, sits in his office at the jail where Acuna-Sanchez is being held on capital murder charges and rattles off a list of small-town problems facing Carroll County.

Theft, mostly of farm equipment. People stripping copper wire off the chicken houses and selling it. Kids stealing their parents' prescription drugs. DUIs. Some methamphetamine. And a lot of domestic violence.

In the last decade, Arkansas has frequently been ranked as one of the 10 worst states in the nation when it comes to men killing women, according to annual reports by the Violence Policy Center. The ranking is based on FBI data on incidents in which a sole male offender kills a single female victim, a typical indicator of domestic homicide. 

In Arkansas, the combination of lots and lots of guns and lax firearm laws contributes to the problem. Research has shown if a batterer has access to a gun, the victim is eight times more likely to be killed. According to an analysis by the Center for American Progress, in 2010 Arkansas had the third-worst gun murder rate for women in the nation.

The article recounts blame-swapping among sheriff, prosecutor and the courts in this case. But the sad truth is that a no-contact order in a domestic violence case isn't worth the paper on which it's written in cases of the most abusive. The article highlights the need for a better way to identify abusers who present the greatest danger — a "lethality assessment" — that has shown promise in states where it's used.

Legislators in Oklahoma recently passed a bill requiring police to screen victims with an 11-question checklist to determine if they are at high risk of being killed or severely assaulted. Once a woman is determined to be at high risk, police inform her about the danger she is in, encourage her to seek help and connect her with key resources.

In neighboring Arkansas, police are not currently being trained to screen women using lethality assessment. When asked about the value of identifying high-risk victims, [Sheriff Bob] Grudek said he would use a screening tool if the state introduced it, but expressed skepticism.

“It doesn’t make any difference what kind of training officers get. You can tell that person they are at risk. But they will keep going back,” he said. “Women continue to live in that environment. Why don’t you do a study on why victims go back to these abusers? Why do they do that?”

Advocates for abused women say this kind of question amounts to blaming the victim. And it discourages women from reporting violence.

The article interviews former state Rep. Linda Tyler of Conway, an advocate for women, who won passage of a bill for GPS tracking of people under protection orders. She said courts had been reluctant to employ the technology — only three of 75 counties use it.

Embedded attitudes here — state identified recently as among the most religious in the country — are part of the problem, she said.

“There were so many cases, over and over, where law enforcement just didn’t believe the victim,” she said. “I had prosecutors tell me that women made this stuff up. It’s unfortunately still an environment of — I’m a husband and I think I have the right to beat my wife, if that’s what I feel like I need to do. That goes with marital privileges.”

The tale of Aceves' walk through the system and its ultimate failure is long and detailed. The bottom line is that a mother of three is dead and her ex-boyfriend, Victor Acuna-Sanchez, awaits trial for a capital murder committed while he was free on bond in earlier abuse.

There is no shelter for battered women in Carroll County.

Tags: , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (27)

Showing 1-27 of 27

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-27 of 27

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Charter school accountability: Non-existent in Arkansas

    A state audit finds charter school spending violated state law, but the state Education Department says it has no responsibility for ensuring proper management of charter schools. Say what?
    • Mar 5, 2016
  • Baseball fans have a new place to stay

    If you missed out on Razorback baseball home games this year because you couldn’t find a great place to stay, your problem is now solved: Staybridge Suites of Fayetteville is now fully renovated and located directly across from Baum Stadium, with free parking for hotel guests.
    • May 22, 2017
  • Policy group urges opposition to new charter seats in Little Rock

    The Arkansas Public Policy Panel is urging supporters of the Little Rock School District to tell state Board of Education members they oppose applications to be heard this week to dramatically expand the number of charter school seats in the Little Rock School District.
    • Mar 9, 2016

Most Shared

  • 'Cemetery angel' Ruth Coker Burks featured in new short film

    Ruth Coker Burks, the AIDS caregiver and activist memorably profiled by David Koon as the cemetery angel in Arkansas Times in 2015, is now the subject of a short film made by actress Rose McGowan.
  • Buyer remorse

    Out here in flyover country, you can't hardly go by the feed store without running into a reporter doing one of those Wisdom of the Heartland stories.
  • Not Whitewater

    Just think: If Democrats had turned out 78,000 more votes in three states in November, people could be reveling today in the prospect of impeaching and convicting President Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, as some Republican lawmakers had promised to try to do if she won.
  • Head-shaking

    Another edition of so-much-bad-news-so-little space.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Halfway done. An open line.

    • Imagine the gall, chutzpah, arrogance of one @FailedDonaldTrump reversing policy to disallow transgenders to serve…

    • on July 26, 2017
  • Re: Halfway done. An open line.

    • Seen on FB "If only gender identity was a choice, like deciding which foot to…

    • on July 26, 2017
  • Re: Halfway done. An open line.

    • YOU, TOO, CATO.

    • on July 26, 2017



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation