Every nine seconds in the U.S., a woman is assaulted or beaten, and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence says one of every three has been a victim of physical violence by an intimate partner. For men, the numbers are also high, one in every four will experience domestic violence.
It's dangerous and very emotional, and in the midst of it, victims don't always know how to get out of it, or who to call for help.
Laura Ponce of Berryville is a tiny woman, yet she stood tall against law enforcement in rural Carroll County after the brutal murder of her daughter, Laura Aceves, by her boyfriend. Then Ponce fought for justice all the way to the Arkansas State Capitol. In honor of her daughter, anti-domestic violence House Bills 1706 and 1707 were signed into law April 1, 2015 by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.
In Arkansas, there's an effort under way to change that. As part of Laura's Card, which was signed by the governor last year, law enforcement officers are handing out a flyer to anyone involved in a domestic situation.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge says it puts crucial information right into the hands of someone who needs help.
"Hotline numbers, a local domestic violence shelter could attach their information to it, or the officer could attach his or her information to the card as well,” Rutledge explains. “It has a list of victims' rights, hotline numbers, phone numbers for them to call."
Laura's Card was one of four domestic violence laws that were approved in Arkansas last year. It means officers have to give a victim the flyer, but only when it's safe to do so and not when the abuser can see what's happening.
Rutledge says just having the information might prevent that person from falling victim to abuse again.
"Too often, we see where victims are, say, afraid to speak out or come out of the shadows,” she relates. “And this card may be a window of hope for that victim who does not think that he or she can get out of that situation."
Rutledge says there have been a huge increase in domestic violence in Arkansas in the last few years and intimate partner violence accounts for 15 percent of all violent crime.
Domestic violence affects children, too. One in 15 is exposed to intense fighting between intimate partners each year, and 90 percent of these children are eyewitnesses to violence.
Public News Service