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Laura’s House arms O.C. law enforcement with knowledge

Domestic violence agency helps make law enforcement better equipped to handle domestic violence situations

by Elizabeth LeePublished: February 07, 2013 08:55 AM

Ladera Ranch-based women’s services provider Laura’s House, the only state-approved comprehensive domestic violence agency in South Orange County, has entered into a new partnership with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department to provide information, training and resources to local law enforcement.

Under the leadership of Orange County Sheriff-Coroner Sandra Hutchens, Laura’s House advises law enforcement with presentations designed to give domestic violence responders a better understanding of both the victim and the abuser. With the aim of providing victims with a more comprehensive review of their rights to press charges and seek help, Laura’s House helps officers improve the outcome of domestic violence 911 calls.

“We are grateful for Laura’s House and their commitment to ‘ending the silence’ of domestic violence in Orange County and beyond” Hutchens said. “The presentations that Laura’s House provides to our Deputy Sheriff’s and law enforcement officials are instrumental in our efforts to break the cycle of violence in our communities. Being better informed about how to appropriately deal with situations where violence is occurring within the home is one of the ways in which our deputies can prevent domestic violence from turning deadly.”

Besides arming law enforcement with knowledge, Laura’s House also provides officials with assistance resources, such as cards with Laura’s House’s 24-hour domestic violence hotline numbers and numbers to other agencies focused on aiding victims of abuse.

“Being able to provide the victim with a phone number where he or she can get help is one of the ways that law enforcement can gain the victim’s trust,” said Marissa Presley, the bilingual prevention and education specialist for Laura’s House. “Victims are often hesitant to involve the police because they are afraid that their abuser will turn the tables and blame them for everything.”

For more than two years, Presley has led presentations on domestic violence for law enforcement in Orange County and the Juvenile Services Bureau, while also being in charge of organizing healthy relationship workshops in schools and other youth facilities in the county. In presentations given to Orange County Deputy Sheriffs and police officers, Presley instructs law enforcement on what kinds of questions they should be asking to the victim and the aggressor of domestic violence situations, encouraging victims to press charges against their abuser and seek assistance at Laura’s House and local domestic shelters.

“Domestic violence is a serious issue that can often be viewed as a nuisance for law enforcement officers who are called to the same home, over and over again – especially when the victim is too afraid or refuses to press charges,” said Presley. “The startling reality is that this recurring violence can turn deadly, if the victim does not take legal action and receive access to the support and resources she or he need to start rebuilding a life that is free of violence. By providing law enforcement with the tools and strategies that will enable them to better understand the violence from the victim’s perspective, and help them through referrals to Laura’s House and other domestic violence resources, we can change the attitudes and behaviors that perpetuate the violence.”

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