Family support is essential to combating domestic violence

Sgt. Paul Stevens, with the Pennington County Sheriff's Office, advises people to take advantage of the local resources for domestic violence victims. (KOTA TV)

RAPID CITY, S.D, (KOTA TV) - Law enforcement plays a major role in tackling domestic violence cases but workers at the Pennington County Sheriff's Office said family encouragement is needed even more.

Sgt. Paul Stevens said family can play a vital role in domestic violence by showing endless support.

"If a family member is aware of another family member that is surviving through those events, then be there support them, encourage them," Stevens said.

Scott Hultgren is a victim specialist and said though it is difficult to find the signs of domestic abuse, people who tend to exert power and control over someone is a clear sign of concern.

"Even very small things that end up being a more serious assault. A push, just being rough, aggressive language. We understand families, emotions come into it. But just to watch for those things that escalate," Hultgren said.

Domestic violence cases can be tough for law enforcement.
Sergeant Stevens says the biggest challenge is taking a victim out of a dangerous environment when there are strong feelings of love and closeness the victim feels toward the family member or the significant other.

Stevens said victims struggle to escape because they are worried about how are they going to live, eat and take care of their children.
But this is why resources like WAVI's women's shelter are available.

"We want to hold the offenders accountable but also put those people (victims) in touch with those services. If they do come forward, if the survivors are strong enough to want to escape these situations and report or, if family members are strong enough to be able to offer that support and be able to offer that support and encouragement to that person who is surviving through the situation and get them to come forward, we can definitely help them with those services so they can escape those situations," Stevens said.

Stevens advises victims or victims' family members to not wait for a situation to get worse.

"There's lots of people that want to help. We will encourage them to come forward so they can give us the opportunity to help them," Stevens said.