End Domestic Abuse WI In The News

Wednesday 10/30/2013

During a trip to the state Capitol this month, Jessica Honish thought about Trish Waschbisch and smiled.

Honish and her colleagues from Rainbow House Domestic Abuse Services had just been introduced as the winners of a new honor from the Governor’s Council on Domestic Abuse. The award is called the “Trish Waschbisch Legacy Award” in memory of Waschbisch, a colleague slain this spring in what prosecutors say was a dispute with her boyfriend.

“I was thinking how proud of us Trish would be,” said Honish, the lead advocate for Rainbow House, which assists survivors in Marinette, Oconto and Menominee (Mich.) counties. “The trip was a chance to spend the day with Trish’s mom and dad, just reminiscing about what we had accomplished together.”

Much of the focus at Rainbow House these days is about recovery — for the clients who benefit from the agency’s advocacy and legal outreach efforts, and for the staff and volunteers adjusting to life without Waschbisch. She worked at the center for 13 years, the past two as interim director.

Brent Kaempf, now 49, is charged in connection to the fatal stabbing of Waschbisch, 45, in late April in the home they shared in Peshtigo. Kaempf was arrested in Milwaukee County less than 24 hours after Waschbisch was found slain.

His case is set for trial in late January.

The toll continues

Across the state, domestic violence continues to claim lives.

A report in September by The Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence said 52 women, men and children died in domestic violence homicides in 2012, 15 more than the number killed a year earlier. Half of the victims in 2012 were slain at their homes.

“I’m always telling people how important this (domestic violence) issue is,” Marinette County Sheriff Jerry Sauve said.

Sauve, a veteran of almost 30 years in law enforcement, declined to discuss Wasbisch specifically until Kaempf’s court case had concluded. But he said he regularly reminds deputies that when they are responding to a domestic dispute, “We could be preventing a homicide.”

The state’s oldest victim in 2012 was an 82-year-old West Bend woman shot to death by her husband, who then killed himself. The youngest was a Kenosha County infant who died shortly after her 18-year-old mother was badly beaten. The baby was covered in bruises when she was born; she died soon after.

Brown County had five people die in domestic-violence incidents in 2012, according to the coalition. Fatal incidents also happened in Outagamie, Marinette, Marathon and Wood counties.

People in the advocacy community mourned Waschbisch’s death, holding a candlelight vigil and doing other things to honor her memory. Honish said the people who knew her draw strength by thinking about the energy and resolve that Waschbisch brought to her work.

'Healing at different speeds'

Advocates say the numbers of people seeking help has not declined in the six months since Waschbisch was killed. While they say it’s positive that victims are comfortable seeking counseling, shelter and other assistance, several remain concerned that continued demand means that the problem has not abated.

Green Bay’s Golden House, for example, is on pace to serve more than 1,000 abuse survivors again this year. Other authorities in Brown, Door and Marinette counties all say that demand for their services remains strong.

Brenda Curtis, office manager at Sturgeon Bay-based HELP of Door County, said she regularly will encounter people who are surprised to learn that abuse occurs in the county, which is known as a destination for relaxing getaways. Two people in the county died in domestic homicides in 2012, according to the WCADV report.

“It would be nice if we could work ourselves out of a job,” Curtis said. “We are busier, and some of that is that more people are comfortable coming for help. But domestic violence is not decreasing, and I don’t know if it will ever completely go away.”

Back at Rainbow House, the winners of the Trish Waschbisch Legacy Award remember their colleague and vow to continue her work.

“All of us have been healing at different speeds,” Honish said. “But we know that if this had happened to anyone else — anyone of us — Trish would have been right there.”

Doug Schneider

Appleton Post Crescent

 

Thursday 10/24/2013

The Milwaukee LGBT Community Center’s board of directors late on Oct. 22 announced the selection of an executive director after an extensive nationwide search. Colleen Carpenter assumes the post at the nonprofit on Nov. 18.

A news release said Carpenter would be the first full-time executive director at the center since 2011. She was hired to “help guide the organization as it continues to develop programs, build fiscal sustainability and cultivate relationships throughout the greater Milwaukee area.”

In a statement to the press, center co-president Paul Williams said, “Thanks to strong community support, the center has experienced a remarkable comeback, allowing us to take this next step towards our goal of making the center a national model of effectiveness and vibrancy.”

He continued, “Colleen’s extensive experience in program management, staff development, community outreach and grant-writing make her an outstanding choice for helping to achieve that goal.”

Carpenter currently is the executive director of Daystar Inc., a Milwaukee-based organization that provides long-term transitional housing for women fleeing domestic violence.

Her resume details more than 25 years of experience working for nonprofits in the areas of domestic violence prevention, housing for people living with AIDS and also youth services.

Carpenter spent the early years of her career in the Milwaukee area serving in leadership roles related to domestic violence prevention, including as president of the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

She became the executive director of the YWCA in Alton, Ill., in 1999, and led a campaign to heal an organization on the verge of bankruptcy and “beset with employee morale and public relations challenges,” according to the news release. Carpenter is credited with overseeing a turnaround that put the YWCA on solid financial footing with the development of programs and new funding sources and improved public relations.

For the past decade, she has focused on fund development work with a specialty in grant management.

In 2011, Carpenter accepted the executive director post at Daystar and returned to Milwaukee, where her three grown children and their families reside.

“Milwaukee is where I came out, and I have always considered it home,” she said in the news release. “With the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, I am thrilled to blend my passion for serving the LGBT community with my lifelong career in nonprofit management, all in a location that I truly love.”

The center’s national search for an executive director was aided by Centerlink: The Community of LGBT Community Centers and funded by the Johnson Family Foundation.

Fifty-eight candidates applied for the job and were vetted by search and hiring committees.

“We were thrilled by the caliber of candidates who applied for this position,” stated center co-president Anne Perry Curley. “Given the center’s current opportunities and challenges, Colleen’s range of skills and experiences stood out as an extraordinarily good fit. The center’s board of directors unanimously endorsed her hire.”

Carpenter will take over from interim executive director Karen Gotzler, who since February 2012 has volunteered her time and the services of her company, Urban Strategies/Sector Management.

Gotzler will continue to serve as the center’s volunteer interim executive director until Carpenter joins the staff on Nov. 18 and will remain actively involved during a transition period.

Gotzler also has agreed to join the center’s board of directors when her staff role ends.

A reception to welcome Carpenter is scheduled for Dec. 5 at the center.

Wednesday 10/16/2013

While some stories of domestic violence made national headlines over the past year, there are countless tales of tragedy that receive scant attention.

End Domestic Abuse in Wisconsin recently released a report that documents and analyzes domestic violence-related homicides in 2011 and 2012. The report’s release coincides with Domestic Violence Awareness month.

The group — formerly known as Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence — hopes the sobering statistics contained in the report prompt communities to become more active in efforts to prevent abuse.

“Our intent is to honor the victims and survivors of domestic violence homicide,” said Patti Seager, executive director of EDAW. “We also want to support Wisconsin communities to create opportunities for intervention and the prevention of homicide.”

In 2011, the stark reality of domestic violence hit home when a Fond du Lac police officer and the wife of a convicted felon were killed in two unrelated domestic violence incidents.

Craig Birkholz, 28, and Nicole Anderson, 33, were among the 37 people who lost their lives in 31 domestic violence incidents in 2011. Last year there were 38 domestic violence homicide incidents resulting in 52 deaths. Five of the incidents resulted in multiple homicides.

Caught in the line of fire

Two homicides recorded in 2011 were the result of legal intervention by responding law enforcement officers. Birkholz was gunned down while responding to an emergency request from fellow officers who were engaged in a standoff with James Cruckson on March 20, 2011.

Earlier that morning, Cruckson’s girlfriend drove to the police station to report that Cruckson had sexually assaulted her. Believing that the woman’s child was still in the home, three police officers entered and were pinned down by gunfire before they could make contact with Cruckson. Birkholz was the second backup officer to respond to the call.

According to police reports, Cruckson and the woman had a history of domestic disputes resulting in police being called to the Lincoln Avenue home multiple times.

Agnesian HealthCare Domestic Violence Program Coordinator Tiffany Wiese said many victims are often hesitant to call police because they fear that their abuser will retaliate against them.

“Until our systems become more consistent in dealing with abusers through prosecution and rehabilitation, victims will probably continue to be fearful,” Wiese said. “Victims should report in order to hold abusers accountable and keep their families safe, but the reality is that this may put the victim and their family in more danger.”

Trying to break free

Many victims of domestic violence stay in a relationship out of fear, said Lindee Kimball, executive director of Solutions Center of Fond du Lac. Last year Solutions Center assisted 225 victims of domestic abuse.

“Victims try to leave their partners about seven times. They go back thinking things will be good for a while,” said Kimball. “It’s all about the power and control that the abuser exerts over the victim. They think it’s easier to go back and deal with it, hoping it won’t happen again. The scariest part is when they do leave. The abuser hates the fact that the victim is taking that power back. That’s usually when something happens.”

In 2012, about half of the intimate partner-related homicides occurred after a relationship ended or when one person in the relationship was taking steps to leave, according to the report.

Last year a relatively high number of children — nearly 25 percent — were killed by their fathers or other adult male household members.

“The male abuser knows what’s dearest to a mother — her children. They know they can hurt her most by taking them or harming them,” Kimball said.

Work in progress

Under state law, Jason Anderson should never have had possession of a firearm. The Fond du Lac man shot his wife as she lay in bed at their Fond du Lac home on Nov. 8, 2011.

While family members say there was no history of domestic violence, one witness told police that Jason Anderson had previously threatened his wife with a gun. Anderson was a convicted felon due to a drug conviction and, therefore, was prohibited from owning a gun. He was sentenced to life in prison for the death of his wife.

Under Wisconsin law judges don’t know if domestic abusers own firearms. And if an abuser lies about owning guns or ignores a court order to turn them over there is often no follow-up and no penalty.

A pending bipartisan bill would allow courts to verify whether people are subject to domestic violence and child abuse restraining orders and direct them to surrender their weapons. The bill would not change the fact that it is not illegal to sell a gun to someone who is the subject of a restraining order.

Wiese said laws addressing gun restrictions in domestic violence cases can be beneficial in trying to hold offenders more accountable or by keeping victims and their families safe by eliminating easy access to weapons.

“Laws are put out there regarding access to firearms ... but that doesn’t mean they are always enforced,” Wiese said. “Restraining orders and offenders being put on probation or serving time are definitely a step in the right direction, but safety is not always guaranteed in these situations. It’s a work in progress.”

A helping hand

Wiese said Fond du Lac County has many services and projects in place to help address domestic violence within the community. Fond du Lac County’s Coordinated Community Response (CCR) and Domestic Abuse Reporting Team (DART) are both put in place to bring together the first responders of these cases to discuss flaws within the system and ways to improve victim and affected family member services.

The Fond du Lac Police Department launched an enhanced victim follow-up protocol this summer led by the Domestic Violence Intervention Team. Officers accompany victims to meetings with counselors/advocates at Agnesian HealthCare or Solutions Center to obtain additional information or offer counseling services victims may need following an assault.

“We wanted to take a proactive approach to ensure that the wellbeing of victims of domestic violence was taken care of and they were getting the resources they needed to help them get out of abusive relationships,” said Assistant Police Chief Steve Klein. “It goes above and beyond just responding to a domestic abuse incident and making an arrest and referring the charge to the district attorney’s office.”

Kimball said friends and neighbors can also assist domestic violence victims, especially those who try to hide the abuse.

“After Nicole Anderson died, many folks started second-guessing themselves, wondering if they had missed signs of abuse. If you’re friends with someone and you suspect abuse, don’t be afraid to ask them because just maybe they’re waiting for you to ask so they can open up that gate,” Kimball said. “And if you think someone is being hurt address it, don’t ignore it. It might be too late next time.”

Colleen Kottke

Fond du Lac Reporter

Tuesday 10/15/2013

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the Franklin County Family Resource Center (FRC) is ready to help with free community services and information.

The FRC, a state-accredited domestic violence program, promotes safe and healthy living environments for Franklin County families who are victims of domestic violence, said Director Cynthia Treadway. "The center strives to reduce domestic violence incidents and increase knowledge, self-esteem and empowerment throughout the county by providing services to the community, promoting community awareness and providing support for victims," said Treadway.

The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice defines domestic violence as a pattern of physically, sexually, and/or emotionally abusive behaviors used by one individual to assert power or maintain control over another in the context of an intimate or family relationship.

For a child, that means witnessing, hearing, being told about or seeing the aftermath of abuse and coercive control used against a parent.

In the United States, 15.5 million children live in families in which partner violence occurred at least once in the past year. In 2010, the state of Virginia housed 2,625 children in domestic violence shelters. Of those children, 171 stayed in transitional housing due to their parent fleeing an abusive relationship.

The Virginia VaData Report showed 4,367 children receiving domestic violence advocacy services. Child abuse is 15 times more likely to occur in families where domestic violence is taking place. Information from the Franklin County FRC shows that children become aware of abuse when they are denied care because their parent is injured or unavailable to take care of them. Some children hear threats of physical harm or death and feel the tension building in the home prior to an assault. Some are forced to watch or participate in violence against their parent or are pitted against the non-violent parent by the abusing parent.

Children living in violent homes find various ways to cope with family violence, Treadway said. Some become truant, violent, sexually active or runaways. Others become addicted to drugs, foods or pornography.

Domestic violence affects children emotionally, behaviorally, socially and physically. A child may feel shame, fear, guilt, powerless, helpless, depression, abandoned or confused. He or she may start acting out or withdrawing. The child may excessively seek attention or take on the role of "caregiver," Treadway said.

Socially, a child may feel isolated from friends and relatives, or express poor anger management and problem solving skills. Some children may get involved in excessive social functions to avoid going home or become engaged in exploitative relationships as perpetrator or victim.

Physical signs of domestic violence in a child include nervousness, lethargy, frequent illness, poor personal hygiene, regression in development and self abuse, Treadway said.

A study by the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence shows that boys who grow up with domestic abuse are more likely to abuse their intimate partners, and girls are less likely to seek help if they become victims in their adult relationships.

Help for domestic violence is available at the Franklin County FRC. All services are free, confidential, non-judgmental, voluntary and informative. Services offered include a 24-hour domestic violence hotline, crisis intervention, danger assessment, safety planning, information and referral, and court and systems advocacy. Other services available include an emergency domestic violence shelter, primary prevention and a children's activity support group.

The center also offers adult support groups and classes in stress and anger management, financial knowledge, parenting, training for professionals, as well as a domestic violence outreach program and follow-up. "We want to help," said Treadway. "We want to speak to groups, teams, organizations, churches and schools. We are not only a source of help for victims, we are a source of information for prevention." The center offers the following suggestions for those who are at risk for domestic violence:

•Plan for quick escape.

•If you believe you are about to be assaulted, try to stay out of rooms where there are weapons, such as guns or knives.

•Keep a list of telephone numbers of family, friends, doctors, shelters, etc.

•Gather important documents, such as birth certificates, passports, prescriptions, social security cards, copies of any protective orders, children's school records, medical records, bank account information, any documents you feel are important to you.

•Put aside emergency money.

•Hide an extra set of car keys.

•Keep an extra set of clothes and shoes for you and your children with a trusted friend.

•Take a special toy for your child.

•Talk to people you trust.

•In case of emergencies, dial 911. For more information, contact the center at (540) 483-5088 or visit www.franklincountyva.org/shelter. The domestic violence hotline is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (540) 483-1234.

STACEY HAIRSTON

The Franklin News-Post

Friday 10/11/2013

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Displayed on the grounds of The Women’s Center are full-sized purple silhouettes representing those who were killed in Waukesha County by domestic violence since 1992.  New silhouettes have been added, commemorating 5 Waukesha County women who were murdered as a result of domestic abuse.  This memorial is displayed throughout the month of October in observance of Domestic Violence Awareness month.  The Women’s Center began this display in 1992, honoring those in the community who lost their lives to domestic violence.

“We have witnessed an increase in the scope and complexity of abuse experienced by individuals,” said executive director, Marie F. Kingsbury.  “Several studies on domestic abuse state there has been approximately a 75 percent increase in women seeking healing services and protection just in the Midwest." 

A recent homicide report by the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence confirms this, stating there was a total of 48 domestic violence homicides, up 50 percent from the year prior.  In Waukesha County alone, five victims died as a result of domestic violence, including Shanel Negron, Jennifer Sebena, and the Azana Spa victims, Zina Haughton, Maelyn Lind and Cary Robuck.

 

In 2012, police departments throughout Waukesha County responded to more than 800 domestic violence-related emergency calls.  Law enforcement referred over half of these victims to The Women’s Center.  Domestic violence continues to be an underreported crime, and the reality is that the public rarely hears about it unless it results in a homicide.

As an independent, non-profit human service agency founded in 1977, The Women’s Center provides a wide range of free and comprehensive services designed to address the issues of domestic violence, sexual assault and abuse. These services include emergency shelter for abused women and their children, transitional living, group and individual counseling, onsite and respite childcare, child abuse prevention programming, legal advocacy and employment counseling. The Center also provides Hispanic outreach, community education programs, information and referral services, and a 24-hour crisis line.

Editor's Note: The above information was provided to Patch via a news release from The Women's Center.

Sarah Millard

Waukesha Patch

Thursday 10/10/2013

Why doesn’t she leave? What did she do to provoke him? Had he been drinking?

When hearing about a domestic violence incident, I am sure these questions have entered your mind. However, these are the wrong questions to ask. When it comes to domestic violence — also known as domestic abuse or domestic battery — many of us immediately try to excuse it or blame the victim because we do not understand the dynamics of abuse. In this article, I hope to clear up some common misconceptions about domestic violence.

Misconception No. 1: Men experience domestic violence just as often — even if incidents are not reported.

Relatively few cases of heterosexual men being battered by women show up in police records, clinics or anonymous surveys. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistic, 85 percent of intimate partner violence victims are women. However, the Family Center serves ALL victims of abuse — including males.

Misconception No. 2: She must have done something to provoke him.

Batterers often try to blame violence on the victim, but the batterer has made the choice to abuse. NO ONE deserves to be beaten, battered, threatened, or victimized in any way — especially by someone they love and trust.

Misconception No. 3: If it was that bad, she would leave.

In many cases, it IS that bad, but women in abusive relationships stay for a variety of reasons. Domestic abuse is all about power, so abusers use many methods to keep victims under their control. Often times, batterers convince their victims that they are truly sorry for their actions and they will change. Many victims are so dehumanized, isolated, and dependent on the abuser that they stay because they have no one to turn to, nowhere else to go, and no means to support themselves and their children.

Children are another tool abusers use. They threaten to take the children away, to hurt — or even kill — them in order to keep victims under control. Victims also are terrified to leave because they fear retaliation from the abuser. According to End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, in 2012, “about half of the intimate partner-related homicide incidents (13 of 27) occurred after the relationship ended or when one person in the relationship was taking steps to leave the relationship.”

Misconception No. 4: It’s just a fight — they’ll work it out.

Domestic violence is not “just a fight,” an isolated incident, or a “bad” relationship — it is a pattern of behaviors. Improving the relationship will likely not end the violence. Violence is learned behavior, and many batterers are violent with all of their intimate partners.

Misconception No. 5: Abuse does not affect the children in the family.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Children who have been exposed to domestic violence are more likely than their peers to experience a wide range of difficulties, including behavioral, social, and emotional problems. Children in families experiencing domestic violence are more likely than other children to exhibit aggressive and antisocial behavior or to be depressed and anxious. Children exposed to domestic violence are more likely to experience difficulties in school, slower cognitive development, lack of conflict resolution skills, limited problem solving skills, pro-violence attitudes, and belief in rigid gender stereotypes and male privilege.”

Misconception No. 6: Alcohol, drug abuse, stress and mental illness cause domestic violence.

These factors can contribute to or worsen the batterer’s violence, but they do not cause violence. According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, most abusers do not use violence at the workplace or in other non-intimate relationships to solve conflict, so abusing an intimate partner is a conscious choice made by the batterer.

Misconception No. 7: Abusers have no control over their anger.

Abusers use their anger as a method of control. Batterers choose not to abuse their bosses or terrorize their friends when they are angry. Batterers often “control” their anger enough to abuse their victims in less visible areas of their bodies or to avoid damaging their own possessions during violent outbursts. Violence or threats of violence are used specifically to maintain the batterer’s control over the partner.

Misconception No. 8: Domestic abuse only happens in lower class families.

Domestic violence occurs at all levels of society, regardless of their social, economic, racial or cultural backgrounds. However, wealthy people usually can afford legal assistance, as well as medical and mental health services. Victims with fewer financial resources (i.e., those belonging to a lower economic class) tend to call the police or other public agencies.

Misconception No. 9: Domestic violence is not a serious crime.

Domestic violence accounts for a significant proportion of all serious crimes, including aggravated assault, rape and homicide. According to the Wisconsin Domestic Violence Homicide Report, in 2012, there were 38 domestic violence homicide incidents resulting in 52 deaths: 48 homicides and four perpetrator suicides. Victims reflected the span of life, from less than 1 year old to 84 years old; 14 of the victims were younger than 18. There was an average of more than three domestic violence homicide deaths per month in Wisconsin.

Misconception No. 10: Domestic abuse is not my business, and I can’t do anything about it.

Domestic violence is a community problem, not a private affair. The abuse of any human being by another is everyone’s business. Society has a responsibility to speak out against domestic abuse and support those who have been victimized. Many victims have transitioned into survivors by breaking the cycle of violence in their lives with support from their families, friends and community agencies.

So, the next time you hear about someone affected domestic violence, instead of wondering why she stays, perhaps you should wonder why he abuses her.

If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, please call the Family Center at 715-421-1511or email info@familyctr.org. Visit www.familyctr.org for more information.

DaNita Carlson

Wisconsin Rapids Tribune

Thursday 10/10/2013

When new clients come into Laurie Lawrenz’s new treatment center, Labor of Love, they’re often surprised when she offers them a beverage and asks them how they are.

After all, batterers aren’t accustomed to being treated kindly by authorities.

“My biggest thing is when they walk in my office I treat them like a person,” said Lawrenz, 51, who opened Labor of Love in March. “It’s not about what you did, it’s who you are. First, you’ve got to get to know who the person is and what’s going on.”

Labor of Love is Sheboygan County’s only treatment program for batterers certified by the Wisconsin Batterers Treatment Providers Association.

The center also provides other kinds of counseling services, including mental health counseling and other treatment programs for adults, teens and children.

The WBTPA is part of End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, a statewide organization that promotes education and advocacy to end domestic violence.

“Batterers treatment itself is an important resource to have in communities so that criminal justice professionals, the criminal justice system, have resources to help perpetrators change their behavior and to facilitate perpetrators accepting responsibility and accountability for their actions so they can change their behavior,” said Tony Gibart, public policy coordinator at End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin.

Gibart said programs like Lawrenz’s grew out of the the increasing awareness of how to effectively combat domestic violence.

“The first thought was, ‘How do we protect victims?’” Gibart said. “Not too long after that came the understanding that there should be programming for perpetrators, both because victims and survivors said they wanted that ... but also because there needs to be a tool of the criminal justice system to effectively respond to domestic violence.

“The lack of certified batterers treatment providers in Wisconsin communities is a gap, a hole in our resp to domestic violence,” he said. “It’s certainly an important step that those services are established in Sheboygan County.”

Dione Knop of Sheboygan County Victim/Witness Services, said her office makes referrals to Labor of Love, along with many other treatment programs and services.

“Ideally, if the perpetrator gets treatment, it’s going to stop some of the behaviors ... and lead to more safety for victims,” Knop said. “Sometimes victims will ask what resources are available. Certainly, we try to be aware of different services in the community and we make referrals based on what’s available.”

Lawrenz, who opened another Labor of Love center in Wausakee this summer, is a licensed social worker with an affinity for helping people who are in trouble.

“Once you start talking to people, once you figure out what they’re about, people are people,” she said. “Usually, there’s a story behind it. I really believe that you can always make positive out of a negative.”

Lawrenz’s passion for her work comes from a major trauma she suffered in February of 2012, when she had a massive heart attack just weeks after starting the job of her dreams with a state subcontractor.

“I died on the table and was brought back with paddles,” she said. “When I came back to work, I was still on probation with the job and they let me go.”

That led to a lot of soul searching.

“‘Why didn’t I just die, why am I here?’” she asked herself. “I was still working with the criminal population and sex offenders. What I see is that that population is really the ones that I can relate to the best.”

After researching what kind of care is available for that population, Lawrenz discovered that there was a gap in treatment options for batterers.

“Once you have a life-changing experience like that, you basically look at life differently,” she said. “I’m a certified domestic violence and sex offender treatment specialist. Those things were really important to me.”

Many of Lawrenz’s clients come to her through a court order, and about 65 percent of her total caseload is made of up batterers. She also gets referrals from attorneys as well as from the Sheboygan and Manitowoc county court systems.

“I think the population I deal with is so used to ‘suits:’ social workers, probation, things like that, especially if they’ve been in prison, they’re not treated like a human being,” she said. “There’s always some kind of trauma in the middle of things that happened in their life. There’s always something that’s at the center.”

Many batterers Lawrenz sees come from backgrounds where abuse goes back generations, where “They learned that from Dad — this is how a man treats a woman,” she said.

Still, Lawrenz said, most of the accused batterers she sees really want to break the pattern of violence.

“Even people who are court-ordered, I would say 90 percent really want to change,” she said. “Some of it is they don’t know how to change. Nobody’s really ever worked with them on how to change. I believe in them.”

—Reach Janet Ortegon at 920-453-5121.

Sheboygan Press

Thursday 10/10/2013

What issue will affect one in four women in America; covers the spectrum of age, race, religion, culture, income and education; and has October as its awareness month? If your answer to this question is breast cancer, you are wrong. The answer is domestic violence.

If you think domestic violence is not “your issue” or that people in your life are not affected by it, think again. Domestic violence happens in so many relationships and families that it is very likely someone you know has or is currently experiencing abuse — even if they do not talk about it.

According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, or NNEDV, in the United States about 2.3 million people each year are abused by a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend. Of those victimized by an intimate partner, 85 percent are women and 15 percent are men.

So, what is domestic violence? Many use the term “domestic abuse” rather than “domestic violence” because violence brings to mind images of hitting, punching or some other form physical abuse. However, there are many other methods that abusers use.

Domestic abuse is a pattern of behaviors used to control an intimate partner and can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological in nature. So, controlling your partner’s finances, continually insulting your partner or isolating your partner from family and friends are examples of domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse also has a huge impact on children as millions of children each year witness some form of abuse. End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin reports that children who are exposed to domestic abuse are at a “higher risk for alcohol and drug abuse, sexual acting out, running way and suicide.” Boys who grow up with domestic abuse are more likely to abuse their intimate partners; girls are less likely to seek help if they become victims in their adult relationships.

This October, join the Family Center to raise awareness for that “other” issue affecting millions of women. Support victims of domestic abuse and do not blame them for it — just as you would not blame a woman for having breast cancer. Help the Family Center and advocates across the state to end the stigma of domestic abuse and encourage victims to speak out.

One way to show your support during Domestic Violence Awareness Month is to wear purple-colored clothing. Another way is to wear a purple awareness ribbon — stop at the Family Center if you are in need of a ribbon. You also can change your Facebook profile picture to one that promotes awareness or post information about domestic abuse; invite your friends to do this as well. Most importantly, talk about domestic abuse. Share this article with your neighbors, co-workers, or friends. Silence hides violence — domestic abuse will not stop if we do not discuss it.

If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, please do not look the other way — call the Family Center at 715-421-1511or email info@familyctr.org.

Visit www.familyctr.org for more information.

Gretchen Konopacky

Wisconsin Rapids Tribune

Thursday 10/03/2013

LA CROSSE, WI (WXOW)—Over the last two years, 89 people have died, in Wisconsin, due to domestic violence, according to End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin.

That number is down from 116 in 2009 and 2010.

October is domestic violence awareness month; to kick off the month, advocates held a candlelight vigil at UW-La Crosse Tuesday evening.

The vigil was a time for supporters to gather and honor victims and survivors of domestic violence.

End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin says La Crosse County had no domestic violence homicides in 2011 and 2012.

In Vernon County, Anita Satterlee, was killed in 2011.

Earlier this year, La Crosse lost a couple in a murder suicide.

They were among those remembered during the vigil.

New Horizons said we can help by knowing what healthy relationships are.

"If one partner has control over all the finances if you're isolated from family and friends," Ann Kappauf, Executive Director of New Horizons said. "If your partner is physically abusive to you you're in an abusive situation and seek help because we're concerned about your safety."

End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin said domestic violence is a matter of life and death.  They hope their homicide report prompts people to become more active in an effort to prevent abuse.

"Over the last two years, we have seen so many tragedies," Patti Seger, Executive Director, End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin said. "Some made national headlines, others received scant attention. We hope every story now compels us to do better as a state and nation."Studies have shown the vast majority of domestic violence homicide victims never sought help from a domestic abuse shelter or service provider."We want every victim who is currently in danger to know that help is available," Seger said. "You are not alone, and you don't have to live in fear forever. Services are available throughout Wisconsin, which truly save lives."Other data from the report includes:

  • Perpetrators of domestic violence homicides were overwhelmingly male. In 2011, 72% of perpetrators were male. In 2012, 86% of perpetrators were male.
  • In 2012, a relatively high number of children were killed by their fathers or other adult male household member. This category accounts for close to one quarter of all domestic violence homicide victims in 2012.
  • In 2012, about half of the homicides that were related to intimate partner violence occurred after the relationship ended or when one person was trying to leave the relationship. This fact demonstrates the separation is often the most dangerous time for a victim.
  • Victims in the report reflected the span of life, from less than one-year-old to 84 years old.
  • In 2011, homicides occurred in 12 separate counties. 21 counties are represented in the 2012 homicide listing.

The full report is available online at: http://wcadv.org/sites/default/files/2011.2012HR.pdf

Steffani Nolte

WXOW 19

 

Wednesday 10/02/2013

Azana Salon and Spa shooter Radcliffe Haughton was among four Wisconsin men who were prohibited from possessing guns, yet used them to kill their wives or girlfriends in 2012, according to a new report from End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin.

Since 2000, there have been 499 domestic violence homicides in the state. At least 53 of the victims were killed by a domestic abuser with an illegal gun, according to the advocacy group. Another 189 were killed with legal guns.

One of the most recent was Zoey Krueger, 22, fatally shot by her boyfriend Nov. 5 at a motel in Jefferson. Carl Avery, 25, had been charged with trying to strangle Krueger less than a year before he killed her. Another woman had a restraining order against him, which made it illegal for him to have a gun.

Inquisitive and strong-willed, Krueger was a social butterfly who lit up a room, according to her mother, Teresa Coy. Krueger also didn't like to give up on people. If she saw something good in them, she was willing to stick with them for the long haul.

Krueger had been seeing Avery for just over a year. The morning of her death, she had realized enough was enough and tried to leave, her mother said.

Krueger was the second woman in her family to die in a domestic violence incident, her mother said. Coy's cousin, Barbara Heine, was fatally shot by her boyfriend in 1998.

"One shove can lead to your life being taken," Coy said. "It's unfair to the victims. Zoey. My cousin. They had no choice."

In all, 52 people — 10 of them in Milwaukee County — died in 38 domestic violence incidents in the state last year, the report says. Four of those were perpetrator suicides.

The report, released Monday, also updates the 2011 numbers, which were released a year ago. According to the updated figures, 31 incidents resulted in 37 deaths, including three perpetrator suicides in 2011.

The advocacy group, formerly known as the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence, has tracked domestic violence deaths statewide for 12 years. During that time, the high was 67, in 2009.

In 2012, victims' ages ranged from less than 1 to 84 and included one baby born at five months gestation when her mother was choked and beaten, according to the report. They lived in 21 different counties. Also in 2012, 86% of perpetrators were male.

"These tragedies must call us to do better. Domestic violence homicides are preventable homicides, but too often abusers are not held accountable and are allowed to illegally possess guns to threaten, injure and sometimes kill their victims," said Patti Seger, executive director of End Abuse.

Although the right to bear arms is guaranteed under the Second Amendment, there are exceptions. Felons, people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence and people with domestic abuse restraining orders against them are barred from owning guns.

Under Wisconsin law, judges don't know if domestic abusers own firearms, and if an abuser lies about owning guns or ignores a court order to turn them over, there is often no follow-up and no penalty.

A pending bipartisan bill would change that, setting up a process for allowing courts to verify whether people subject to domestic violence and child abuse restraining orders surrender their weapons.

But even if such a law already had been in place, it likely would not have prevented Haughton from killing his estranged wife and two of her co-workers at Azana and wounding four others before committing suicide.

That's because it is not against the law to sell a gun to someone who is the subject of a restraining order, and the bill does not change that.

When a restraining order was granted to Zina Haughton against her husband three days before the shooting at Azana, he did not have any guns. But within 48 hours of leaving court, he purchased one from an online dealer.

Officials at End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin would like to see universal background checks on gun sales, no matter how or where those sales occur.

"Requiring background checks on gun sales is a tangible policy that would make this report shorter in future years," the document says.

The report also points out two types of domestic violence homicides that seem to be increasing in prevalence: homicides in the workplace and homicides involving veterans.

In addition to the workplace deaths of Zina Haughton, Maelyn Lind and Cary Robuck at Azana, the report notes the death of Ann Schueller, 51, of Wausaukee, whose ex-boyfriend stalked and harassed her before fatally shooting her at the gas station where she worked. He was a convicted felon, which made it illegal for him to possess the rifle he used to kill her.

The third workplace incident resulted in the death of Wauwatosa police officer Jennifer Sebena, killed by her husband, Benjamin Sebena, while she was on duty.

Benjamin Sebena and Radcliffe Haughton also were among three veterans to commit domestic violence-related homicides in 2011 and 2012.

The third was James Cruckson, who fatally shot Fond du Lac police officer Craig Birkholz in 2011, according to the report. Cruckson's girlfriend drove to the police station and reported that he had sexually assaulted her. She told police her 6-year-old daughter was possibly still in the house. Three officers entered the house to try to rescue the girl. Cruckson shot one of them twice. Birkholz responded to a call for backup and also was hit twice, in areas not protected by his Kevlar vest. Cruckson later killed himself.

So far in 2013, three women have been killed by their intimate partners who were veterans, according to Tony Gibart, public policy and communications coordinator at End Abuse. One of them was Toni Voss, 27, who lived in Adams County with her boyfriend, Coleman Dybul, a Marine who reportedly was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder after serving several combat tours in Afghanistan.

On the night of March 2, Dybul woke up, heard a noise and thought he saw someone outside the couple's bedroom window. He screamed, and Voss also screamed, Dybul told police. He said he believed someone was choking Voss, so he picked up the loaded shotgun he kept next to the bed and fired. When he turned on the lights, he realized there was no intruder and he had shot Voss in the chest, Dybul told police. He has been charged with first-degree reckless homicide.

"The intersection of domestic violence and the military is a sensitive and timely subject," the report says. "... We do not suggest that veterans are generally more violent than civilians. ... Most men and women who serve in the military will never be violent when they return home. Yet, because domestic violence knows no bounds, any large segment of the population — like the veteran and military service personnel population — is necessarily going to include a percentage of batterers."

The Military Advocacy Program of the Battered Women's Justice Project has concluded there is no way to know whether serving in combat causes domestic violence, the report says. However, some research suggests that "certain aspects of military and combat experience may exacerbate the dynamics of domestic violence," according to the report. "Additionally, health conditions such as post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, which are seen among individuals who have been in combat, may independently explain some violent behavior."

Wednesday 10/02/2013

A new report says 52 people died as the result of domestic abuse in Wisconsin in 2012, including four perpetrators who took their own lives.

The analysis of from the advocacy group End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin says that since 2000, there have been 499 domestic violence homicides in the state. At least 53 victims were killed by a domestic abuser with an illegal gun. Another 189 people were killed with legal guns.

 

End Domestic Abuse executive director Patti Seger said domestic violence homicides are preventable homicides, but too often abusers are not held accountable and are allowed to illegal possess guns.

End Domestic Abuse advocates for universal background checks on gun sales, no matter how or where those sales occur.

Associated Press

Wednesday 10/02/2013

Fifty-two people died in domestic violence-related murders and suicides in Wisconsin last year, an increase of 15 deaths over 2011.

A report from End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin says that there were three domestic violence homicides per month in the state. As in past years most of the perpetrators of those murders were men and most of the victims were women. Fourteen of the victims were under the age of 18. One of the report's authors, Tony Gibart, says the most common weapon of choice remains the same: guns.

“Guns are the most common weapons in domestic violence homicides and continue to pose a significant risk to both victims and innocent bystanders when abusers are allowed to possess weapons illegally,” says Gibart.

The report also found an increase in the number of domestic violence incidents taking place in the victim's workplace, a place where the perpetrator can often most easily find the victim. Gibart says his organization is also increasingly concerned about domestic violence in the families of military veterans. Veterans were involved in three of the 2012 homicides.

“There appears to be a complex relationship between trauma that one might experience in combat and domestic violence here at home,” says Gibart.

Gibart says this year his group is also calling on police and prosecutors to work harder to convince victims of domestic violence to testify in court against their abusers and to hold abusers more accountable when they violate restraining orders. He says convincing victims that the legal system will protect them can go a long way towards preventing domestic violence homicides.

Friday 09/27/2013

n response to a Waukesha woman’s killing by her abuser, a Wisconsin legislator plans to introduce a bill to prevent domestic violence offenders from owning guns while under a restraining order.

Rep. Garey Bies, R-Sister Bay, plans to introduce legislation this fall to force offenders under restraining orders related to domestic or child abuse to give up their firearms within 48 hours of the court’s issuance.

Bies said the bill would institute a specific protocol for gun surrenders and is a reasonable and proven way to protect against domestic violence homicides.

A Waukesha woman’s death at the hands of her boyfriend, who possessed a gun while under a restraining order for domestic abuse, motivated him to introduce the bill, Bies added.

Tony Gibart, public policy coordinator for End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, said his organization supports the bill because it would help domestic abuse victims.

“This bill will give victims the peace of mind that their safety is being taken seriously,” he said.

Current law states the domestic violence offender is required to surrender any and all firearms when a judge issues a restraining order for domestic or child abuse, but little follow up is done by law enforcement or the courts after the ruling, Bies said.

“Wisconsin needs to close this gap in our laws and provide a better opportunity to prevent the next domestic violence tragedy,” he said.

He added he wants to make sure police and court procedures are strengthened under this law. A survey conducted by sheriff departments statewide found 70 percent of counties did not follow up to ensure offenders did not possess weapons in compliance with their restraining order.

Four counties participated in pilot programs that consistently used the court procedures to follow up with abusers, Bies said.

“[County residents] said the procedures made them feel safer, gave them peace of mind and enhanced their actual safety,” Bies said.

Gibart said the bill is a simple way to reinforce the purpose and intent of a restraining order.

“It really takes a basic step to what needs to be done around firearm surrender,” Gibart said. “It makes [the restraining order] more than a piece of paper.”

Jeff Nass, president for Wisconsin Firearm Owners, Ranges, Clubs, and Educators, Inc., an organization charted by the National Rifle Association, said he believes the bill has “a lot of gray area” on the procedure in which law enforcement and courts would follow up with abusers.

Since the state does not require registration of guns, obtaining all the offender’s firearms could be more difficult, Nass said.

“If the offender has more guns than they say, how do you prove it?” Nass said.

He said this bill could also harm innocent victims because if an offender ever filed a restraining order against the victim, victims would be left unarmed and less able to defend themselves.

The bill will be introduced to the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice. It is currently being circulated for co-sponsors.

Bies said the bill has gained support from both sides of the aisle and he hopes the bill will reach an Assembly vote by the end of this year.

 

Thursday 09/26/2013

APPLETON — A bill circulated in Madison this week adds an enforcement element to firearm surrenders and has the support of Fox Valley law enforcement and domestic abuse advocates.

Door County Republican Garey Bies is gathering sponsors for the bill that calls for courts to directly ask about firearm ownership and verify guns are turned over to sheriffs or a qualified third party within 48 hours after a restraining order is issued. A vast majority of Wisconsin counties, 70 percent, rely on the honor system for the surrender.

A nearly identical bill failed in 2010 after introduction by Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber, D-Appleton. The effort to reintroduce the bill has been elevated after a series of Wisconsin spousal shootings in which victims had just months earlier obtained restraining orders. It was also the subject of a February report by the Gannett Wisconsin Media Investigative Team.

“I’m hopeful that attitudes have changed, but am not entirely confident,” Bernard Schaber, now a cosponsor, said. “The National Rifle Association will say this is a bad thing and it’s our job to tell them no it’s not and tell them why.”

The previous effort received opposition from the National Rifle Association, Wisconsin Firearm Owners and Wisconsin Gun Owners. A state NRA lobbyist was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

As of Wednesday, the bill had eight cosponsors in both the state Assembly and Senate, but did not have a companion bill in the Senate.

Efforts to follow-up with protection order subjects have been successful in the Fox Valley.

In 2011, the state’s Office of Justice Assistance spent $150,000 on a study in Outagamie, Winnebago, Sauk and Waushara counties to examine new ways of enforcing the law.

Though a court commissioner orders the surrender of weapons, the process of locating and making sure the weapon is turned over to the sheriff or responsible third party had been lacking. Results from the study were clear: Active enforcement meant guns were no longer in the hands of violent abusers, and the extra step was accomplished without extra labor costs.

During the yearlong study in Outagamie County, 66 guns were ordered to be turned over as a result of 109 protection orders. In Winnebago County, 74 guns were ordered surrendered from 79 protection orders in 15 months.

Last year, Outagamie County issued 82 protection orders with firearm surrender requirements.

Appleton Police Chief Pete Helein rarely wades into law enforcement politics, but has been outspoken in his support for the measure that is already followed in the Fox Valley.

“When guns are in homes where domestic violence is occurring there is a direct correlation with the potential for a fatality of victims or our officers,” Helein said. “Since the county was a test site for the procedures we saw firsthand how it can help keep guns out of the hands of those who would act violently.”

Wendy Gehl, a legal advocate for Harbor House Domestic Abuse Program, said the bill simply enforces a law that’s already on the books.

“It’s one thing to listen to a court order about guns and we’ve found it’s quite another to physically relinquish that gun,” Gehl said. “This isn’t about taking away rights or stopping someone from hunting, this is about people that have already lost their firearm privileges because of their violent behavior.”

The bill also has the backing of End Abuse Wisconsin, a group that tracks domestic abuse violence. Its research suggests that guns were used in nearly half of all domestic abuse homicides for the last decade, more than any other weapon or method of killing.

Nationwide, domestic-related assaults involving firearms are 12 times more likely to result in deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This accountability is an important message to victim and perpetrator that victim safety is taken seriously,” said Tony Gibart, policy coordinator for End Abuse Wisconsin. “The gun lobby says it doesn’t want new restrictions in favor of enforcing the ones we have, and that’s what this bill does. Opposition would seem hypocritical.”

— Nick Penzenstadler: 920-996-7226, or npenzenstadler@postcrescent.com; on Twitter @npenzenstadler

Appleton Post-Crescent Media

Tuesday 09/24/2013

In many Wisconsin counties, judges don't know if domestic abusers own firearms — even though a state law makes it illegal for them to do so. And if an abuser lies about owning guns or ignores a court order to turn them over, there is often no follow-up and no penalty.

That could soon change under a bipartisan bill that would set up a process for allowing courts to verify whether people subject to domestic violence and child abuse restraining orders surrender their weapons. The bill, which author Garey Bies (R-Sister Bay) began circulating for co-sponsors Monday, also has the support of the judiciary.

Bies expects the bill will get a speedy hearing and a vote in the state Assembly by the end of the year.

"When people are in a situation where they are supposed to turn their guns in, we will make sure it's done," said Bies, former chief deputy sheriff in Door County. "That way, if something arises, they won't have easy access to a weapon. They will have to work harder to find one, and maybe by then they will have calmed down a little bit. That's the goal: To take away the heat-of-passion type situations."

Under the bill:

· People who are served with temporary restraining orders must be notified that they cannot possess firearms and that they are required to surrender their guns.

· If a judge grants a permanent injunction, the perpetrator must fill out a questionnaire listing the make, model and serial number of any guns owned. The perpetrator would be required to testify to its accuracy under oath. Lying would constitute the crime of perjury.

· If the perpetrator does not attend the hearing at which a permanent injunction is granted, the victim must be allowed to notify the judge about any guns the abuser may have.

· If the guns have not been surrendered within 48 hours, the perpetrator must attend another hearing, scheduled within a week of the order becoming permanent. There, the abuser must prove the guns have been turned over to law enforcement or to a third party approved by the court. Failure to attend the hearing and failure to give up guns both would be considered contempt of court and result in arrest.

Teri Jendusa-Nicolai, a domestic violence victim-turned-advocate who was kidnapped, beaten and left for dead in a storage shed by her former husband in 2004, said she is glad victims as well as perpetrators will be able to inform the court about guns.

"You and I both know that criminals are not going to come forward and be honest. If criminals were honest there would be no criminals," she said.

She hopes the new law will discourage abusers from escalating their behavior by holding them accountable if they do lie. Jendusa-Nicolai obtained restraining orders against her ex-husband, David Larsen, before she was kidnapped.

A judged ordered him to turn over his weapons, but he did not, she said. She told police he kept two guns in a closet in his house, but officers were powerless to seize them, she said. During the kidnapping, he threatened her with one of the weapons, she said.

Larsen was later convicted of state and federal felonies and sentenced to life in prison.

"Anything that can allow these perpetrators to be held responsible or be penalized is a step in the right direction," Jendusa-Nicolai said. "The more they get away with, the more they're going to do. That's what happened in my case. If there's more accountability, that is going to lessen the amount of crimes."

A shooting at the Azana Salon & Spa in Brookfield in October has made reforming domestic violence laws a priority for state legislators in both chambers and both parties this session. But it likely would not have prevented Radcliffe Haughton from killing his estranged wife, Zina, and two of her co-workers at Azana and wounding four others before committing suicide.

That's because nothing in the bill makes it illegal to sell a gun to someone who is the subject of a restraining order.

When a Milwaukee County court commissioner granted a restraining order against Radcliffe Haughton three days before the shooting, he did not have any guns. But within 48 hours of leaving court, he purchased one from an online dealer, meeting the man in a McDonald's parking lot to pick up the weapon.

A similar bill was proposed several years ago, but judges were concerned that it would be unworkable because the court system already is overburdened, said Jeffrey Kremers, chief judge of the Milwaukee County Circuit Court. A four-county pilot program began in 2010 to study the issue before moving ahead.

At that time, 70% of Wisconsin counties did not automatically check if abusers turned in their guns.

Four counties initially received grants from the state's Office of Justice Assistance to implement the pilot program: Outagamie, Sauk, Waushara and Winnebago. Milwaukee County put a similar policy in place effective April 1.

Steven G. Brandl, as associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, evaluated the four-county pilot and found it to be effective.

There was very little cost involved in implementing the new procedures, and they did not significantly add to court overcrowding because most perpetrators handed over their guns without a second hearing, Brandl's report says.

"Victim advocates in each of the counties were also very supportive ... and, based on comments received from victims, thought that the new procedures made victims feel safer, gave them peace of mind, and enhanced their actual safety," the report says.

During the time period Brandl studied, from February 2011 through February 2012, courts in the four counties granted 212 domestic abuse and child abuse injunctions. The perpetrator owned a gun in 41 cases, according to either the perpetrator or the victim. Those guns were turned over in 33 cases.

After the chief judges read Brandl's report, they unanimously recommended that every county in the state adopt procedures for firearms surrender, Kremers said.

Because each county is different, court officials in each jurisdiction need to be able to come up with their own specific procedures, he said.

In Milwaukee County, the new policy for firearms surrender has added to the workload of clerks, judges, commissioners and other court staff, but implementation is going relatively smoothly, Kremers said.

"Do I think we're getting every single firearm out there or that a respondent might have access to?" Kremers asked. "I'm convinced that we're not. But we're doing the best we can within the rules of the law."

Police still need a warrant to search someone's house for a gun, Kremers said.

"The problem is a lot of times it comes down to petitioner saying there is a gun and there is no evidence of it," he said. "There's a hearing and he denies he has a gun and so now what? You can't go searching every house because somebody thinks there's a gun."

One possible fix to reduce the number of perpetrators who lie is used in Sauk County: When deputies there serve someone with a temporary restraining order, they immediately ask about guns and make a list. They do this before informing the person that a restraining order prohibits gun possession.

"This notification and inquiry by the sheriff's department may be done with such little warning that the respondent may not be prepared to be deceptive in their response," Brandl wrote.

Another possible flaw in the bill is that it would continue to offer perpetrators the choice of surrendering guns either to law enforcement or to a third party, such as a relative or friend.

"At the very least, it is probably fair to say that a respondent's access to his firearms is easier (less secure) if surrendered to a friend or relative than if the firearm is surrendered to a law enforcement agency," Brandl wrote.

Patti Seger, executive director of End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, formerly the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence, called the bill "common-sense homicide prevention legislation."

"In many Wisconsin counties only minimal steps — if any — are taken to ensure violent abusers follow the law and turn over their guns," she said. "When domestic violence victims come forward, they show tremendous courage, and they deserve a system that takes their safety seriously."

 by Gina Barton

Milwaukee Journal Sentinal