SHREVEPORT, La. -- According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 10 million adults experience some form of domestic violence every year in the US. Approximately 1 in 5 female victims and 1 in 20 male victims need medical care.
Caddo District Attorney James Stewart said domestic violence has increased this year.
“The pandemic has really raised it to a higher level because people have spent so much time together,” Stewart said. “It's really exacerbated the situation and we noticed a spike in cases, particularly when we had to stay home orders.”
The law helps victims of domestic violence through orders of protection. That protection starts with a temporary restraining order, which lasts only for a short time up until the date of the court hearing and is usually set soon after the order is approved.
The temporary restraining order prevents an abuser from coming within 100 yards of the victim and can also give temporary custody of children and use of the home. At the court hearing, the judge can grant a protective order, which can last 18 months.
Some victims shy away from getting protective orders, thinking they do not work and only provoke the abuser. Stewart said Caddo has protective orders with teeth.
“I would say it is the first line, get that order. And what we do is we have protective orders with teeth and we have the GPS monitors, they have the ankle monitors they have different kind of a little more sophisticated monitors,” said Stewart. “For those who will not be in jail, that keeps up with them and they can notify people when they get within a restricted zone. It is a help both to the prosecutor and to the victim. And it gets that person in front of authority, so that they understand this is serious, and they cannot continue their conduct.”
Stewart adds that there are many different resources and people ready to help a domestic abuse victim.
“Anybody who believes they're in abusive situations should reach out,” he said. “They should call their local first responders. They should call the Family Justice Center. They can call juvenile court, or they can call the Caddo parish DHS office, and we have the resources to intervene to get you with Project Celebration and other groups that will help you. We love you. And we really want to help those people and and their children. It’s the least of those who need the help, and that's what we're here for.”
Anyone who is in abusive situation or knows someone who is should call the NWLA Family Justice Center at 318-584-7171, Project Celebration at 318-256-6242 or the 24-hour Louisiana State Crisis Line at (888) 411-1333 for immediate assistance. All services are free and confidential.