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BPD: 'I don't think a day goes by we're not responding to domestic situations'

Domestic violence is widespread -- affecting all people regardless of their age gender race sexual orientation or religion.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in three women and one in four men will experience this in their lifetime.

It's a hard situation to face or talk about but it's something police respond to all the time.

"I don't think a day goes by that our officers are not responding to domestic situations," says Boise Police Capt. Ron Winegar.

Boise Police say officers haven't seen a huge spike in domestic violence situations being reported in the last four or five years but they aren't seeing a drop either.

"It is kind of a steady thing that sadly remains the same," Winegar says. "We impact it the best we can and we try to help as many people as we can that are in those situations but it continues to recur in our community."

Law enforcement says the exact numbers are difficult to determine.

According to the Ada County Sheriff's Office, in 2017 the county, along with the Boise, Garden City and Meridian Police Departments received 3,629 calls for service related to domestic abuse. But there are other factors.

"If you pull statistics and numbers of how many calls does dispatch get for domestic violence that may be one number but the number of actual domestic violence incidents we end up responding to may be much higher," Winegar says.

They say often the call is for something different but it turns out to be more serious. And many times those seeking help aren't ready or don't wish to report the abuse to police.

Last year, around 800 adults came into the Faces of Hope Victims Center seeking help for domestic abuse. The center's program manager, Paige Dinger, says the numbers only reflect a small portion of the potential victims in the area.

"I know that there were thousands of calls last year in 2017 but you think of the thousands of calls that weren't made because people aren't ready to report or they're afraid, or it's somebody that they know and love and they just don't want to get them in trouble."

They say the numbers they're seeing can't accurately reflect how much domestic abuse is actually happening because so often the victim doesn't reach out at all.

Captain Winegar says he understands how traumatic and difficult domestic violence situations can be and he wants victims to have the opportunity to change their lives.

"You know it used to be we would just tell people to go their separate ways for the night and you know work it out that doesn't work in domestic violence situations. There has to be a change."

Captain Winegar admits that law enforcement as a whole hasn't done the best job in the past when dealing with domestic violence but that has changed. He says they want break the cycle of abuse and that's why officer work so hard to investigate and prosecute these offenses.

Police say at times it isn't obvious that a domestic abuse has taken place.

"They are difficult sometimes and sometimes there aren't witnesses and sometimes there's not a lot of evidence and so we also just want to assure victims that even if we can't help make the case so to speak there are resources available to help them," says Winegar "Just know that there are well trained officers who are there to help and we believe you. And we are there to help. And when the situation looks completely hopeless trust enough to at least talk to us and find out what your options are. We will do our best to help you in those circumstances."

Often times victims don't feel like they have many options or simply don't know where to go. It can lead victims to feel hopeless and think their only option is to stay. Sometimes they question if what they are experiencing is actually abuse.

But there are plenty of resources in Ada County that can help answer those questions and provide the necessary support.

"We partner with some great entities in our community the Women's and Children's Alliance, some of the folks that work obviously at Faces, the forensic nurses all of those people are coming together to try and impact this problem and give victims the opportunity to change their life for the better," says Winegar.

Faces of Hope offers a wrap around service so all of the victims needs get taken care under one roof.

"It's not just the bruises and the scrapes and the slaps, explains Dinger. "It's a lot more of the name calling and that emotional piece where they feel like nothing and they come in here very hopeless"

A victim can come in even if they aren't ready to report the abuse to police.

"We know that it takes up to eight times for somebody to actually leave their abuser," says Dinger. "If they want to come in here just for resources and for help that's what we do."

The center can provide basic support like clothing transportation food child care and things such as diapers. It's also dedicated to following up on these cases. The center offers classes, crisis counseling, individualized safety plans. On site there are unique partneships with those in the community to provide important services.

On site the University of Idaho College of Law provides a law clinic, there is a nurse from St. Alphonsus and a doctor from St Luke's for medical and forensic treatment and there is an officer from Boise Police specifically dedicated to following up on these cases.

"We know that it traumatizes someone to have to tell their story to the medical professional and then to a detective and then and then to prosecution," says Dinger. "So here under one roof they're able to do a forensic exam for domestic violence or sexual assault, if they are reporting we can get DNA evidence from their clothing that we take right back to law enforcement for that."

The main goal is give victims back the power and choices that their abuser took away.

"We see this complete turnaround. They came in hopeless. They come out feeling empowered full of hope. They've been beaten down so much that once they start seeing that this community has so many great resources they come out a completely different person," says Dinger.

Advocates explain that leaving an abusive relationship can cause financial burden on top of the emotional and phsyical pain victims have to deal with.

The services provided by Faces of Hope and the Women's and Children's Alliance are free. Advocates say community support can make a difference in this fight.

"Often times we see victims who are coming from an abusive relationship where they haven't had any control over their finances or you know they've just been domninated," says Dinger. "So when they come here they don't have money for groceries or for gas or for transportation or for a hotel they come with nothing."

So here's what you can do:

  • Donate - your contibutions help keep these services free.
  • Volunteer -Both organizations need help with adminstrative work, outreach, child care, court advocacy.
  • Become an ambassador -Take a tour of each center and recruit people in the community who want to help create a safe place to provide healing and freedom from domestic abuse.

If you or someone you love needs help you can call any of these numbers:

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