June 07, 2011 News & Features » Cover Story


The Stitch Rule 

Long treated by police as unpreventable, domestic violence is receiving renewed attention in the wake of some high-profile cases. But will new tactics work?

Page 4 of 4

Hayes is hardly alone.

No matter how extensive the level of services, some people cannot or will not see the potential danger in their situation, says Parker, the investigator with Henrico police's Special Victims Unit.

"We see it all the time," Parker says — "victims who just can't or won't extricate themselves and won't take our help. Maybe it's because they didn't want to cooperate with us the first time. Maybe it's because they just don't want police involved in their lives. Maybe it's because they're scared. Sometimes they're ready to work with us. And sometimes they're not. Ultimately, it's their choice."

Angela Verdery, a spokeswoman for Safe Harbor, a Henrico nonprofit that provides shelter and counseling for victims of domestic violence, says often those people who are more susceptible to domestic violence live in communities where the police simply aren't trusted.

"Those women may be part of communities that are distrustful of police. Or they may be in a situation where they could find themselves in greater trouble if they went to the police," she says. "That's why it's so important for them to have other options."

At the Henrico apartment, the black dress that sparked a domestic dispute has disappeared. The tears are gone, and the marks on the woman's neck are buried beneath a pink jogging suit. After her husband is escorted away in handcuffs, she puts her two children to bed.

Henrico police officer Richard Mallory has returned to brief the woman on her husband's arrest. He was taken to the Henrico County jail, where a magistrate found sufficient evidence to charge him with domestic assault. He also was served with an emergency protective order. Good for three days, it prohibits her husband from making contact with his wife or their children. When it expires, she can apply to have it extended for a longer term.

But the woman remains worried. This isn't the first time that confrontations between the two have gotten physical, she says, just the first time she's reported it to police. Her husband retains his Egyptian citizenship and has previously threatened to return there and take the kids with him. She'd prefer to stay in the United States.

Days later she declines to discuss the incident, or whether she petitioned to extend the protective order. She asked for privacy on the night of the incident as well.

Mallory can't say whether she's likely to follow-through. "Here's the thing about domestics," he says, "A lot of times you find out later that the couple got back together as soon as the person you put the protective order on got out of jail."

In a follow-up chat with the woman, Mallory says the woman wanted to talk about the kids. "Their daughter has a dance recital tomorrow," he says. "She was worried about what to say about why the father isn't going to be there." S


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