Wise Words About Documenting the Abuse and Reporting it
Today, after hearing another devastating story, I feel the need to share how important it is to document all abuse, to file police reports, and to call 911 when there is an incident. Here is the story:
When I was with my abuser, I was afraid of how it would look to our neighbors to have the police come out; my own pride kept me from reaching out to law enforcement, all to look good in my community. Please, if you are in these shoes, get over your pride. To make decisions out of pride will cost you dearly later! That may be the biggest mistake I made before I left my husband who was abusive in all ways. Because I did not use the powers that God ordained, I am paying dearly now.
He is completely in denial of all abuse. That’s not really so bad because I’m used to his denial. The sad part is that he told me for years that he can turn my family and friends against me. I did not believe him. Reality is that he has roused up a support in the religious community that is unbelievable, and their actions against me are spiteful, threatening, and hateful. The lies and accusations are all malignant in nature. The sad thing is not how they are treating me, because it is an excellent time of refining for me, but tragedy is how bad they make God look.
If you go to your husband and he does any or all of the following (most follow this same pattern), recognize these things as classic traits of abuse:
- first there is denial, saying nothing happened,
- next he will say that you made him hurt you,
- then he will say that as your husband, he has a right to punish you,
- and if he’s really crazy, he might say you are the one physically hurting him!
If he forces sexual actions on you against your will, quoting the Bible to say this is his right, file a police report. This is devastating to your spirit and will destroy you. File all abuse with the law enforcement. They are ordained by God to deal with law breakers, your preacher isn’t.
One last point here, find a safe place physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If you go to your pastor and he justifies abuse, honorably excuse yourself and shake the dust off your shoes as you leave! Do not try to convince him! There are many [ACFJ Editor note – we would say there are SOME, not many] safe pastors, churches, and counselors out there who are grounded in the word of God. They have a backbone to stand up for justice and to teach you what marriage that God ordained is all about, by His Word.
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Comments from Jeff C
The bulleted points above are dead-on accurate. I have experienced these very things exactly as our guest poster has described them here, and in the very same order. I did not experience them in a marriage, but in the church where abusers also often strive to be “first” like Diotrephes. I have literally heard such people use the exact words against myself and our elders and anyone else in the church who confronted them. So note those points carefully and be able to recognize them when they are used against you. My favorite way of opposing them now is “Stop that right now!” (“Stop what?” they will say). “Stop playing the victim, stop claiming I am the offender, and stop claiming that I made YOU say/do something.” [If you are in a physically dangerous scenario, you may not want to be this confrontational however.]
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- Advice from Barb about making a report to the police
- Ask the police officer you are speaking to what his/her name and number is and WRITE IT DOWN right then and there. Also write the date and time you spoke to the officer. The date and time will identify which shift the officer was working. That can be helpful if you are following up later.
- Ask the officer if your report will be actually documented as a report of a crime, or just jotted in the officer’s notebook. What will happen to the report you’ve made? For example, will the officer be able to retrieve and access it later should you need it to help you in a court process later?
This is important. Often when I’ve made what I thought was a ‘report’ to the police. I’ve not written down the officer’s name and number and the time, and it’s much harder to follow up later. And many times all my report became was a scribble in the officer’s notebook, especially if I’d told the officer that I did not want the offender formally charged. This may not be how police operate in your jurisdiction, but take nothing for granted. Ask them and double check their replies and document what they have said to you as soon as practicable. It’s hard to remember it later.
Comment from Ellie
In my experience, police do not like hearing, “I don’t want him arrested.” That makes them feel like they have wasted their time and effort. The officers who responded to my call did not like that one bit. So I suggest never uttering those words. If it’s a report you want, ask for that. If a report leads to an abuser’s arrest, you’ll make it through that even if it knocks the wind out of you. If you can call the arraignment court and get a restraining order attached to the arraignment, that’ll save you some trouble down the road. Documenting all you can helps you keep your sanity when all around you are attempting to minimize the abuser’s actions.
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The following items from our Safety Planning resources page give further ideas about how to effectively utilise the secular justice system.
Ensure that a victim’s words about her fears and previous violence will not disappear if she does.
A victim can make an Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit (EAA) to document her experiences in ways that will help the legal system successfully prosecute in the future, even if she is disappeared, dead or in a coma.
The process combines video taping of the victim’s actual words attesting to the abuse, coupled with witnessed and notarized legal documents that successfully satisfy legal hurdles often faced in intimate partner violence and stalking cases.
A unique packaging of testimony + documentation + perpetrator historical profiling + pre-collected evidence delivered to established safe and legal persons = a delicate issue brilliantly wrapped up for successful prosecution.
This five minute video is by Women’s Health West and Victoria Police of Victoria, Australia. It features local women demonstrating simple and practice ways of gathering evidence. Note: This video is from Victoria, Australia, where protection orders are called “intervention orders” and the emergency phone number is 000, not 911 as in the USA.