Nancy Shattuck, a victim’s advocate in the Puyallup prosecutor’s office, strives throughout the year to reach out to domestic violence victims and ensure they receive the resources they deserve. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month.
On a national scale, 70 to 75 percent of domestic violence cases go unreported. Through September this year, Shattuck said there were 276 cases reported in Puyallup, an average of 0.9 per day. For all of 2012, the number of cases averaged one per day.
In a question-and-answer session, Shattuck spoke about her outreach and how people can defend themselves against domestic violence.
Puyallup Herald: How is domestic violence defined?
Nancy Shattuck: Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviors and tactics used by one person over another to gain power and control. This may include verbal abuse, financial abuse, emotional, sexual and physical abuse. Domestic violence occurs in heterosexual, as well as same-sex partnerships, and crosses all ethnic, racial and socio-economic lines.
PH: What is your role as a victim’s advocate in Puyallup? What outreach do you do in October and throughout the year?
NS: As the victim advocate for Puyallup, I work in the prosecutor’s office, and my responsibility is to try to contact all the victims associated with the police reports where the suspect is arrested and booked on a gross misdemeanor DV charge that comes through our municipal court. I educate them on the criminal justice system, what they can and can’t do, what resources are available to them, and I educate them about domestic violence in general. I am a liaison to them and the criminal justice system.
I also assist with other areas of concern, such as housing, civil legal issues, landlord/tenant issues, DSHS, CPS, etc.
Outreach: We did a proclamation for DV Awareness month on Oct. 15. This is 10th year doing the proclamation that I’ve been here. I speak at our police department’s citizen academy. I speak at the local high schools in some of their classes about DV and how to recognize it in dating relationships.
The City of Puyallup is a member of the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Pierce County Commission Against Domestic Violence, and I am their former chair.
PH: If someone suspects they are a victim, what’s the best way to protect themselves and their families?
NS: 1. Call 9-1-1 and report the incident. Write down the police report/incident number and keep with your records. 2. If necessary, seek medical attention. Have injuries documented and photographed. 3. Go to a safe place, such as a domestic violence shelter. 4. Seek the support of caring people. Tell someone you trust about the abuse. They may be your friend, a family member, a neighbor, a co-worker or staff members of support agencies. Talk to them in a private, safe place. You do not need to face abuse alone. 5. Have a safety plan. If your partner is abusive, have a plan to protect yourself and your children in case you need to leave quickly.
If you are abusive, be honest with yourself, think of the consequences and get help. Call the Center for Women and Families at 812-944-6743 or 502-581-7222, the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney Domestic Violence Unit at 812-285-6264, or a local domestic violence shelter for more information.
6. File for a protective order that will tell your abuser to stay away. When you decide to get help, find a support system that works for you. A trusted friend, family member or professional can help you devise a safety plan and find a safe place for you to stay, if necessary.
If you are a victim of abuse, you are not alone. You have the right to be safe. You are not responsible for violent behavior. No one deserves to be beaten or threatened.