Survivors speak out about domestic violence in area

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 30, 2001

Staff Writer

Incidents of domestic violence are on the rise and Pike County officials are finding this area is not immune to the national statistics.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation predicts a woman is battered every nine seconds and as many as five die each day.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

"My numbers have grown year to year," said Tanya Wambles a domestic violence advocate who works with he House of Ruth, Inc.

Last year, Wambles had 146 cases in Pike and Coffee counties and she hopes better response will reduce those numbers.

Attorneys, law enforcement officers, social workers and health professionals joined to learn more about domestic violence by participating in "Wiregrass: Responding to Domestic Violence."

The seminar was presented by Mark Fuller, District Attorney for the 12th Judicial Circuit and the Pike County Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.

Wambles, who has worked with victims the past three years, offered a survivor’s perspective to those in attendance.

"It involves a pattern of controlling behavior," Wambles said, adding control can come in the form of psychological, physical or financial abuse.

Actually, the most common thing is for the abuser to "beat down" the victim psychologically before any physical abuse ever takes place.

"Cycles keep the victim off balance," Wambles said.

She pointed out one of the societal problems is victims are often chided for leaving and, then, going back to the abuser.

"The number one reason a victim stays is fear," Wambles said. "More victims are killed after they’ve left the relationship."

Also, many fear nobody will believe them because the abuser often presents himself or herself as an upstanding, loving person.

"They do want help; they just don’t know where to turn," Wambles said.

It took Pat 10 years to leave her abusive husband.

"I am a survivor," she said, adding she wants attorneys and law enforcement officers to understand what she experienced.

"I allowed him to abuse me, but I was let down by society," Pat said.

Her husband was the "perfect" military officer and husband to the outside world, but it was a different story behind closed doors at home.

"I’ve been beaten in almost every country and every state," Pat said of the abuse she experienced while married.

"I was so busy trying to please someone else, I forgot about Pat."

But, a phone number flashed on the television screen changed ­ and, possibly, saved ­ her life.

She called the number and was given advice, but it still took her nine months to get everything in order to leave.

"I knew I was living a life that wasn’t right, but didn’t know what to do," Pat said. "I didn’t even have a name for the chaos in my family."

Now, she knows what she was experiencing was domestic violence and currently helps others through the House of Ruth, which was once her home.

"I was a victim. I am a survivor, but I have so many sisters who didn’t get out," Pat said.

After hearing those tales, Senior Circuit Judge Gary McAliley of the 12th Judicial Circuit, talked about search/seizure, protection orders, restraining orders and domestic violence laws.

"I can not stand here and tell you I understand…even though I have these cases day in and day out," McAliley said. "While I don’t understand why people do what they do…I feel it’s my responsibility to do my part."

McAliley said this past month has been an especially busy one for domestic violence cases and pledged to make sure adequate punishment is imposed on those found guilty of such crimes.

"We’ve got to do something," McAliley said. "We need to send a message we’re not going to tolerate this type of thing."