When Protecting Yourself May Take More Than a Protective Order
EVANSVILLE, Ind.--Even if you get a restraining order against someone, it doesn't automatically mean they have to stop carrying a gun. After a double murder-suicide in Evansville this week, police are saying if you are having a problem with your significant other, and you think there might be violence, do what it takes to protect yourself.
"Usually when you're dealing with domestic violence, you're dealing with individuals who have been married," said Sgt. Jason Cullum, with Evansville PD. "So, they're gonna know a lot more about that person's personality and what they're capable of."
TO PROTECT YOURSELF:
- File for a restraining order
- If the significant other violates the order, call police
- If necessary, communicate regularly with police
- If necessary, find a place to stay the significant other doesn't know about
Daniel Sears shot and killed his wife Maygen and a man named Richard Popp, before killing himself about 11 Sunday morning. Cullum said Maygen Sears had done all the right things, but Sears had it in his heart to kill her.
He said that getting a restraining order is the first step, but not the only step. Just because there's a protective order doesn't mean the law forces a potentially violent person to hand over their guns.
"The reason there's that 30-day window where it doesn't start to impact a lot of things is because when somebody files for that initial report, there's no rebuttal. Anyone can walk in and fill out an application for a restraining order and list the reason that they need it."
Cullum said after 30 days the person who filed for the restraining order can file again and the person who has the restraining order against them gets to say their peace in front of a judge, who decides if the gun or guns get taken away.
"To start to restrict people other than from having direct contact gets punitive. You start to take away peoples right based off an allegation that you haven't had an opportunity to respond to."
He said most of the time domestic issues, even ones where there's a protective order, don't escalate to the level of violence of the Sunday incident.
People who have not witnessed or experienced #domesticviolence are often misinformed about the factors that make victims vulnerable. This excellent article explains the motivations and challenges faced by victims. #VAWhttps://t.co/QzlAAh7gIL
— Willow Place Inc. (@willowplace1) February 12, 2018
"If you're the victim of domestic violence, it is a terrible situation to be in," said Cullum. He said if you know the person is capable of hurting you, you have to take extra steps that could go beyond what police can do.
"We encourage any victim of a crime, including domestic violence, to do everything that you can do to protect yourself and to protect your family. You may have to seek a place to stay that that person doesn't know about. It may be very inconvenient for you. But, if you feel the threat is that big, until we can get that person off the street, you have to take extreme measures to protect yourself sometimes."
Cullum said if you're in that situation to reach out, even if it's not to 911, than to a shelter.
"There's a lot of places that can come in and help," he said.
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