'You do not deserve this': advocates say help is available for domestic violence victims

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POSTED: Monday, April 21, 2014 - 6:17pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 4:33pm

Anti domestic violence advocates are speaking out after three people died in two separate domestic violence cases in Ascension Parish this month. They want women and men to know there are groups that can help them get out of dangerous situation.

"The most important thing for any victim whether they are male or female to know about relationship violence is to know that you do not deserve this. No matter what you've been told. No one deserves to be treated in such an abusive and controlling manor," Judy Benitez, with the Iris Domestic Violence Center, said.

Benitez said the signs of an abusive relationship can be small at first.

"Domestic violence or any kind of abuse really is at it's core it's about power and control," Benitez said. "Someone who is very controlling is usually the first kind of red flag. They want to be the one's to decide where you are going to go and what time you're going to get there. "

As time goes on offenders can get bolder.

"...And it just gets worse and worse and, meanwhile he's also isolating her usually from her family and friends," Benitez explained.

Victims can have trouble leaving.

"The offender puts up barriers in a very thoughtful way," Benitez said. "He puts up social barriers, financial barriers, physical barriers, and the biggest barrier is fear. She's afraid for herself, and if she has children she's probably afraid for them too."

Sometimes things can turn deadly. Benitez said Louisiana has an unusually high rate of domestic violence homicides.

"We have been among the highest states ... states for highest rates of domestic violence homicides for at least the past ten years, " She described.

Just this month in Ascension parish three people were killed in two separate domestic violence cases.

Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office Officials said there are resources to help victims in the parish.
Chief Criminal Deputy Tony Bacala with the APSO, said every domestic violence case gets referred to a special unit at the sheriff's office called the domestic violence unit. The unit's goal is to help victims take the steps they need to get out, and, they can even help you to get a temporary restraining order.

"We can do it for free. You don't need a lawyer. You can come here," Bacala said."...You sit down with us. We'll review your case. We'll fill out the paper work for you. We will walk you over to the clerk of court office. Then we'll walk your paper work to a judge a magistrate here. Typically within one and a half hours to two hours you can go from walking in here to walking away with a temporary restraining order."

The Iris Domestic Violence Center serves Ascension and several other surrounding parishes. They offer shelter services, a hotline for victims to talk about their situation, and legal services.

Benitez says no matter what a victim decides to do the Iris Domestic Violence Center is always willing to help.

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