What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviors used to gain power and control over another person. Abuse can be in the form of verbal, psychological, financial, sexual and physical abuse. Domestic violence is not an isolated, individual event, but a series of controlling and manipulative behaviors used to control the victim. Domestic violence usually escalates over time and can result in serious injury or death.
Domestic violence is a crime. No one has the right to hurt or threaten you. If a family member or partner has victimized you, you have the right to seek legal protection. This can include calling the police, having the abuser arrested, going to court for an Order of Protection or to testify and hold the offender accountable for the crime of Domestic Abuse Battery.
How do I know if I am battered?
It may be difficult to identify yourself as a battered person, but it is a critical first step. The following checklist may help you determine whether you or someone you know is a battered person.
Does the person you love…
- Track all of your time
- Constantly accuse you of being unfaithful
- Discourage your relationships with family and friends
- Prevent you from working or attending school
- Criticize you for little things
- Anger easily when drinking or on drugs
- Control all finances and force you to account in detail for what you spent
- Humiliate you in front of others
- Destroy personal property or sentimental items
- Hit, punch, slap, kick, or bite you or the children
- Use or threaten to use a weapon against you
- Threaten to hurt you or the children
- Force you to have sex against your will
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, you may indeed be in an abusive relationship. The abuse will not go away by itself.
Why does it happen?
Abusive behavior is learned. Even when not physically abused, children who observe family violence are emotionally abused children. They grow up thinking of violence as a way of solving problems. They tend to repeat or to accept the violent behaviors they have observed, and they become the next generation of abusers and victims.
***Children are 1500 times more likely to be abusers
if they live in a home where domestic violence occurs***
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Plaquemines Parish District Attorney’s Office Policy for Domestic Violence
The District Attorney’s Office in Plaquemines Parish has developed a no tolerance policy for domestic violence. Family life and the well-being of children is the number one priority. The importance of the prosecution’s response to domestic violence sends a message to the community that domestic violence will not be tolerated in Plaquemines Parish.
Plaquemines Parish District Attorney’s Office is Part of the Community Coordinated Response Team
Everyone involved in the criminal justice system’s response to domestic violence and stalking, from Police Dispatchers to Judges, must understand the complexity of these crimes and know how to intervene effectively. Prosecutors are in a unique position to influence other sectors of the criminal justice system about the gravity of these crimes. Prosecutorial strategy, including recommendations on charging and sentencing issues, can influence the court’s response. Proper intervention of misdemeanor cases and holding the offender accountable prevents the escalation of these cases into felonies.
The safety and welfare of the victims is an important goal of any prosecution intervention. This means that prosecutors and victim service providers must offer immediate protection, monitor the victim’s safety on a continuous basis and adjust their interventions to address the changing needs of the victims. Consistent, appropriate and responsible prosecution of domestic violence and stalking maximizes the effectiveness of the criminal justice response and enhances the safety of the victim.
Prosecutor’s Response to Domestic Violence Cases in Plaquemines Parish District Attorney’s Office
The Prosecutor’s responses to domestic violence cases in the Plaquemines Parish District Attorney’s Office are:
Establishing a NO DROP POLICY
AGGRESSIVE PROSECUTION- striving to protect victims and their children through intervention and swift processing of cases as quickly as possible. Establish early contact with the victim to emphasize the process of prosecution or entrance into a diversionary program.
DIVERSIONARY ALTERNATIVES TO PROSECUTION- Sometimes victims are given the choice to allow the offender the opportunity to complete a batterer intervention program which is designed to deter the offender from future violent behavior. Only first time offenders with no convictions of felonies can be considered to be entered into this program and only with the signed permission of the victim.
SPECIALLY TRAINED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIM ASSISTANCE COORDINATOR- accompanies the victim to all hearings and court appearances, providing safety throughout the procedure. We provide the victim with information regarding courtroom orientation and trial preparation to minimize the trauma of testifying in a criminal court case. This helps the victims to understand procedures and terminology of the court system. Keeping a good relationship with a victim helps them come forward to hold the offender accountable. Often a victim will request to drop the charges of a domestic abuse case. However, due to the up rise in domestic violence crimes the Plaquemines Parish District Attorney’s Office will ordinarily deny the request. This puts the burden of prosecution on the State, not on the victim. This eliminates the likelihood of victim coercion on behalf of the perpetrator. The perpetrator learns that the State is pursuing the charges and that he or she must deal with the District Attorney’s Office.
The percentage of victims showing up to testify is about 90% thus making it highly likely to obtain successful pleas of guilty by the perpetrators without the need of a trial. Sufficient evidence is acquired with photographs and the police and victim being present and ready to testify. Often times, victimless prosecution will be tried even if a victim cannot attend.
After a perpetrator has plead guilty or has been found guilty, it is necessary to have good monitoring of the sentence of a domestic violence case. 26 weeks of domestic violence counseling and substance abuse counseling is ordered Random drug testing may be necessary. The District Attorney’s Office will make sure that probation officers are monitoring the offenders consistently. This is necessary to stop the cycle of violence.
Repetition of domestic violence arrests in Plaquemines Parish are low because of successful interventions, holding the offenders accountable and a NO DROP POLICY. When repeat offenses do occur, offenders find themselves facing 2nd offense charges, with a 3rd offense becoming a felony and a 4th offense carrying a 10 year jail term.
The 26 weeks of domestic violence counseling that an offender is required to complete is designed to calm or “unwind” the batterer. It is a course administered by qualified professionals to teach the offender new skills to handle the anger. Domestic violence is a learned behavior, but with proper counseling it can become unlearned.
The Plaquemines Parish District Attorney’s Office has specially trained victim assistance coordinators who can determine risk assessment and provide victims with safety plans. Assistance in obtaining a restraining order, referrals to shelters, counseling and support groups for victims and children, legal aid, 911 cell phones, victim assistance and notification and criminal justice information will be provided to victims who need to escape an abusive relationship.
Are you aware?
Is domestic violence “Just a Family Matter”? Years ago it was a matter that was private in families and “swept under the rug”. It was “nobody else’s business”. There were no services or agencies in which to acquire the much needed assistance to escape the abusive relationship. Changing times and better education has helped victims understand that there are now resources available to them.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS A CRIME AND IT IS OUR BUSINESS.
If you find yourself a victim of domestic violence and need assistance please call 911 first. Then contact:
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIM ASSISTANCE OFFICE
Mary Jane Tesvich – Coordinator
301-A Main Street, Belle Chasse, LA 70037
504-297-5290 or 504-297-5146
Bonnie Bondi – Domestic Violence Diversion Coordinator
For 24 – Hour Crisis Line and Shelters, Call:
St. Bernard Battered Women’s Shelter – 504-277-3177
Metropolitan Battered Woman’s Program – 504-837-5400
Crescent House – 504-866-9554
YWCA – 504-486-0377
For Counseling Call:
Plaquemines Community C.A.R.E. Center – 504-208-1290
Plaquemines Parish Outreach Program – 504-275-6336