Women increasingly protecting themselves against abusers, prosecutors say
BATON ROUGE- Some might call it vigilante justice, but an increasing number of domestic violence victims who are predominantly women are turning the tables on their abusers.
The numbers are being tracked by prosecutors who specialize in those cases. Last year, Baton Rouge broke records for the most domestic violence homicides at 19. This year, we are already at 11.
"In general, what we hear from victims is an exhaustion from both law enforcement and the criminal justice system," Prosecutor Melanie Fields said.
They call it response violence.
Here's how the numbers break down.
2019- four reported deaths
Response violence: none
2020- 19 reported deaths
Response violence: one case
2021- 11 reported deaths as of (3/15)
Response violence: four cases
"It takes courage to even go make that step and get a protective order," Fields said. "Share outside of their inner circle and talk to law enforcement and a prosecutor."
Those in communication with victims say response violence can be attributed to a multitude of different things. Maybe the victims don't feel like the court system is moving fast enough or maybe they don't feel like a restraining order, effectively a piece of paper, will protect them.
Although the four cases reported this year have all been justified, there is concern that might not be the case for many longtime victims of abuse. It's why prosecutors are sounding the alarm.
"Response violence is difficult for law enforcement and prosecutors if the person who is doing the response violence makes a pre-emptive strike," Fields said.
There are a number of resources where you can get help if you are a victim of abuse.