Document 5C: Prepared Statement of Barbara Wood, Executive Director, Turning Point, Ephraim, Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, Senate Hearing 103-726, 13 April 1993. Hearing Before the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, 103rd Congress, First Session on The Problems of Violence Against Women in Utah and Current Remedies, Salt Lake City, Utah. Serial No. J-103-11.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF BARBARA WOOD
My name is Barbara Wood. I am the director of the Turning Point program in Sanpete County. Our project services the six-county region known as Central Utah. A total of six countries, one-fourth of Utah's land mass, 20,000 square miles is encompased within this region. This area requires three site directors for our project to adequately service the single parent/single pregnant woman/displaced homemaker clients within the region.
This region is serviced by one crisis center located in Richfield, Utah. The crisis center last year housed 147 individuals within the shelter. Many of the clients I service are in crisis in one way or another, and due to the fact there is only one crisis center, largely manned by volunteers, within the region I see many of the victims of domestic violence within my county.
I would like to share with you some of my experience within the last six weeks. I wish to offer some suggestions for change to the problems I identify. Please bear in mind I am reporting only one country's statistics as I have seen them occur. I do not see or hear all that goes on within the county and definitely not within the region. Perhaps what I have observed will assist in understanding the problems faced within the rural area concerning domestic violence issues, focused mainly as seen through the eyes of its victims. Things have improved the last few years--the officers now do not tell victims they must pay to receive a protective order. (At least not all the time.) Protective orders are at times now granted on weekends even if the County Attorney's office is closed. (This is still somewhat rare, improving though.)
I would like to begin talking about a young lady (M.B.) who came to me on a Sunday evening around 6 p.m., looking for a place to live after having been severely beaten by her husband--a beating which lasted approximately two days. She had attempted to call for help and finally reached the local police department, when her young son slipped out a bedroom window and went for help. Upon reaching the police department, an officer did come over and investigate. Her husband took off just before the officer arrived. The officer noted the bruising, the broken appliances, and various other things within the home, and told her he would be happy to come back if the husband returned. Later that evening, the husband did return and the officer did again come back to the home. At that time he informed M.B. that it would be best not to have her husband arrested for he had done this many times in the past, she knew he would eventually cool down, and besides if he were arrested then how would they put up bail and, of course, he would loose his job and how would he support the family? This is the seventeenth time she has called for help when she has been beaten. Each time it becomes worse. Her husband has yet to be arrested. They have seven children who are having many problems within the school system.
Miss S.D. is a young woman who has had three children without benefit of marriage. The first child was abducted by a proposed father and at the time the child was approximately three years of age. There was a great deal of difficulty in this young woman receiving help from any agency to regain custody of her child. No one within the area wished to go against the county officials because the family was rather well-known within the community and it was felt quite strongly that the grandparents wanted to have control of this child. The young lady eventually moved to the community where she has had great difficulty with a boyfriend who has been stalking her. He follows her to the grocery store, he follows her to pick up her mail, he follows her when she gets gas for her car, he follows her everywhere that she goes. As she has been attempting to gain an education, the boyfriend has followed her to school, waited in his car while she is in classes, and then as she leaves school he follows her home. When she reported this to the police department she was informed that she had no legal right to pursue this because they had never been married. And since this young man had shown interest in her, she should be happy. He accepts responsibility for his part in the relationship and for the child.
Most of my afternoon was involved with a young lady (D.R.) who is married and had three children. She called my office because she had been very severley beaten. The beating had commenced at approximately 9 p.m. and continued until 3 a.m. the next day at which time the husband became exhausted and went to bed. She went to work the next day with bruises and abrasions, amid threats from her husband. He followed her to work to make sure she went to work. At her break he followed her to make sure she went to break with no one. He was there at lunch to ensure she could talk to no one about the issue. However, she had slipped away during the work day and called me and reported that she had been abused. Apparently it was a pattern with him to observe her during breaks and lunches at work. She had set him off this time by having a coke with one of her friends. He felt that she shouldn't be drinking coke. I made arrangements to meet her at her home the very moment she arrived home from work and I informed her I would call the police department and have a representative there. I arrived at the appointed time and waited for approximately 20 minutes. The officer did not arrive. I went to the convenience store and telephoned the sheriff's department and asked that an officer be sent to the scene. I went back to the residence and waited and an officer finally arrived. He was not, however, dressed in uniform but was in plain clothes, which was fine. He apologized for his attire and we went in to see the woman. She smiled when she saw the officer and said he had been to her house numerous times in the past breaking up their fights. She informed the officer that she had enough of it and didn't want to take any more of his violence. She also told the officer that this would not be like it was last time where her husband was arrested and then back within a couple of hours to beat her again. I pointed out to the officer that she had enough physical evidence of the beating for there to be an arrest. The officer turned to the woman and asked, "Do you wish to swear out a complaint?" She said yes, I will do whatever it takes. I just can't have this happen to me anymore. I want to get away from it. I want to get out of it. Things are getting worse and worse. The officer then excused himself and went into the backyard where the husband was working. I continued to talk to the woman and we surveyed the damage that had occured in the home the night before during the man's violent outburst. There was broken furniture, broken dishes, broken appliances, ceramics, pictures, mirrors, telephones had been pulled from the walls. It was obvious the beating had taken place in several rooms of the house. Eventually the officer came back in, told her she would have to swear out a complaint, and went to his car to see if he had any domestic violence forms for her to sign. He came back into the house, the woman signed the domestic violence form, the officer signed it, and then I signed it as a witness. She asked at this time, if her husband could be held at least overnight so that she could find a safe place. The officer told her that her husband had the right to make bail anytime, but that in order to make bail, he would have to sign a paper in which he promised not to come on the premises. If he bothered her again he would be charged with a felony. This officer was made aware of the fact that this was not the first time the husband had beaten her, that he had been released before, gone straight to the home and beat her quite severely. She was very uncomfortable with this situation. She begged the officer to keep him overnight so she could find a safe place. The officer said he could make bail if he had the money. My suggestion at that point in time was to allow the woman enough time to obtain a telephone, for the night before the telephone had been used in the beating. When she tried to dial 911 for help he pulled the telephone out of the wall and used it in the beating. The officer said this was not his responsibility to provide a phone. The woman said there was a phone in the garage and she would like a phone brought in before he left with his husband. That way she would have it to call in case she needed help. The officer went out and came back in with the man into the home and said, "He is going to wash up and then I'll take him to the police station." The husband said she could not use his phone. The officer stated he had to pacify the husband too. The officer left with the husband in the police car.
I took the woman and her children in my car. I dropped the children off at day care and took the woman to the hospital to have her injuries evaluated. Before we finished with the doctor's examination, she received a phone call from the sheriff's department informing her that her husband had made bail. I returned her to her home, provided her with a telephone, and she informed me a friend would come to stay the night. Within two hours of his release, the husband was back at the home threatening her. She called the police, told them what kind of car he was driving for they had not responded in time to catch him there. The next morning he again was at the house trying to kick the door. She dailed 911 and the police response time missed him a second time. She then phoned me at home asking what she could possibly do. I informed her that the shelter was still an option. She stated if she left the home, he had told her he would destroy everything in it. I then called the sheriff's department and they informed me the husband was at the time talking to the judge for he wanted to press charges against her for she had hit him back. He did, however, have no bruises.
The officer informed me he would be arrested and I could call back in an hour to verify that. This man was charged with a felony, and released. Within four hours of his second release, he was back at the residence driving slowly in front of the home. When D.R. called the sheriff's number she was told by the dispatcher that unless he came on the property there was nothing they could do. When the perpetrator started with harrassing phone calls she again called the sheriff's department and was informed that there was nothing for them to do unless he came to the residence. At this time she called me to see if she could still go to the shelter because she was so afriad. I told her the shelter was always an option for her. We talked a while and I suggested that she call the original arresting officer and talk to him. If he was not available that she call and ask that an officer be sent to the residence to see just what they would do for her. I felt she was not getting the whole story concerning her rights from the dispatch person. She called and an officer came and talked to her for some time. The officer stated he would patrol the area frequently. The officer took a picture of the car her husband was driving, and told her to call and ask for him if she had any more trouble. It is beyond my realm of comprehension to understand why this woman must police her perpetrator. Why it is necessary for her to report his comings and goings to the police. The police department is fully aware that this is not his first offense of domestic violence. The man has been imprisioned for drugs and violence, and he has been arrested many times in the past for domestic violence. The police department is aware that his pattern of behavior is to return to the scene within hours of his arrest, yet they did nothing to protect her. Knowing all this, he can make bail in less time than it takes her to be examined by a physican.
Is there no accounting for even a judge to hear of or consider prior events? What is it going to take for us to make a change? A death, two deaths, three deaths? How many? How many is enough? What's the value of a woman or a child in Utah? If you observe what I see as society's reality, it isn't worth much. My opinions are formed by what our rural society shows me. We say that Utah's future is its children. Yet time and time again I observe children who have wathched their mothers being beaten or have been beaten themselves. They watch the person they expect to provide them with security and strength and love, brutalize all members of their family. This becomes a pattern. It becomes a cycle. The above mentioned woman stated that her cycle of abuse was a two-week cycle. Meaning that every two weeks she could expect him to erupt and a beating occur.
Mrs. C.C. was being victimized by her husband. She was victimized with extreme abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and emotional abuse. Her husband manipulated her. This woman did not realize she had any rights whatsoever. As we talked, and I told her that abuse also was his threats and the name calling, it took her approximately three weeks of periodic telephone calls to get enough courage to go to the shelter. She was concerned about using a shelter within the region because he was such a well-known person within the region and he knew where the shelter was as part of his duties as leader in the community at large. Finally, we made an appiontment for me to come over to pick her up. It was a morning after quite a severe beating. As I drove to the home to pick this woman and her two children up. I arrived and was greated at the door and she said, "I'm not quite finished. I'll be just a few minutes more." I walked in the home. Everthing was very immaculate, everything was in its place, and I followed her into the kitchen where she was busily preparing a lunch for her husband. She had made a chocolate cake and she was putting the finishing touches on his lunch. She said she had to make sure his lunch was fixed the way he wanted it before she could leave. I think this story more than anything else demonstrates the irrational thinking used by a woman who is the victim of "battered wife syndrome."
Last week the court system referred a young man to my program to take some classes on developing respect for women. This young man is in high school and was arrested for the rape of a 12-year old girl. When questioned by the courts he stated this girl was asking for it and he provided it. The lawyers in the court room agreed that if our young women have poor moral standards they can only expect men to take what they can get. It took the juvenile probation officer being outraged by this moral value system to get this young man referred for help. His own father stated it was OK to get it where you can. It was my understanding that a 12-year old girl is not considered old enough by the court to consent to sex. The offfender is punished by going to classes to learn respect.
V.S. was brought to my office by her husband. At that time she was in much distress. She was crying and wanted to have some help in finding a place to live, a way that she could earn money to support herself; to pay for help for herself and her children. She stated she had no money and her husband wanted to get a divorce. She explained to me that he was abusive and wanted her to be sent back to Costa Rica. We talked for several hours with the help of an interpreter (J.C.). I learned the facts surrounding her situation. She was in America on a visitor's visa, her husband was in the process of obtaining citizenship. V.S., her husband (O.S.), and the three children had been staying with his mother and stepfather. V. was very hesitant in stating anything negative about her husband or his family. She was afraid of what would happen to her. She simply stated that she could no longer live there. She said O. yelled at her a great deal and that she and the children were not wanted at her in-law's home any longer. She felt that life there would be dangerous for her son in particular.
O. then enterned the office and told a story of great interest. He stated he wanted V. to leave his mother's home due to the fact the children had been stealing food from his mother's food storage. It was now necessary for the family to lock up all food so that V. and the children could not eat except for what they were given by O. or his mother. If the children did not eat when O. told them to and what he told them to they could not eat again till the next day. V. cried and admitted this had been happening. Her story was that often O. and the family insisted the children be punished by being sent to bed without food. O. stated that the boy was very wicked. That he would take tools and hide them in his room in the basement. When asked where they were the boy would bring them to O. O. stated he had beaten the children many times with a belt. He felt this was not wrong, but it was his right as a father. That he had thrown the baby across the room, and was very adamant about the fact that he had not beat V. He turned to V. and asked her to verify that he had not beat her, she admitted that he had not beat her. She stated he had grabbed her by the throat, and chocked her till she passed out, he had thrown her against the wall, had thrown things at her but he had not beat her. He had hurt her much more by the terrible things he would say to her. She said the things that O. said to her and to the children were much worse than the beatings or the physical abuse could ever be. She stated she wished often that he would only hit for that would be much easier to live with than the scares of the awful names and things said. O. made several threats concerning the boy R. who was about 14 years old at the time. O. stated that R. was the devil reincarnated and that he should not be permitted to stay anywhere but should be locked up. O. stated that when they lived in Costa Rica he did not have to work for he was a very rich man. He said he used to drink and go with many other women. When V. did not do as he said her to do, he would force her to prostitution in addition to her work at sewing for many. Now he had joined the church and did not do that any more, V. must obey him now. He now had the priesthood and so V. must do whatever he said for her to do and so should the children. I made arragements to have V. and her children stay at the shelter for her and the children's saftey. O. and his family refused to allow the children or V. to eat that day. And being aware of the fact we had made arrangments with the police department to transport V. and the children to the shelter, O. told V. that the police were coming to take her away and to lock R. up so she would never see him again. V. was very frightened yet the fear she felt for the police coming was not as great as the agony she was experiencing.