Group organizing ‘safe shelter’ 9/10/2013

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Group organizing ‘safe shelter’

By John Howell Sr.

Law enforcement officers find especially challenging the investigation of domestic abuse. It’s often “she-said, he-said.”

“The threat is there, when they cry out, you’ve got to go,” Sheriff Dennis Darby said at an Aug. 29 community action meeting, hosted by Batesville Safe Shelter.

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“I’ve seen a lot of domestic situations,” said Beverly Pope, a Batesville Police Department dispatcher/receptionist for almost 20 years. “I know your frustration because I’ve heard it over and over again,” Pope told the group that included directors of the Batesville Safe Shelter organization and interested guests.

“I’ve always had a heart when I see those young ladies and young men come in,” Pope said.
Pope also said that occasionally after officers have made arrests on domestic abuse complaints, “Then, after they do the charges, they (the affiant) come(s) right back within two days and they drop the charges. That hardens the officer’s heart because they really feel sorry for you when you come in, but when you come back and you drop those charges, it’s just like you’re saying, ‘It doesn’t matter.’”

“Then they have a different take when you come back again. They don’t have that same … because you dropped those charges,” Pope said.

“I think a lot of times those charges are dropped because they’re fearful,” one member of the audience said.

“They are afraid of the retaliation,” Pope agreed.

Batesville Safe Shelter Director Jake Julian said that the organization’s goals include counseling for the abuser as well as creating a “fortress”-like shelter for victims.

Other discussion revealed:
•   A domestic abuse complaint in which the victim is strangled automatically warrants a felony charge;
•   Lobbying efforts will focus on preventing people accused of domestic abuse from “bargaining down” a felony domestic abuse charge to simple assault;
•   Men are often victims of domestic abuse;
•   Female victims return to their abusers an average of seven times before they leave the situation altogether.

Batesville Safe Shelter has scheduled a “Masquerade for Hope — A New Beginning” ball for Saturday, Nov. 2 to help raise funds for the shelter. The ball will end a day that will have begun with the Batesville Rotary Club’s Gateway to the Delta 10-miler and 5K run that will also raise money for the shelter.

In the interim, board members and guest agreed to establish a network of private homes willing to shelter victims of domestic abuse. For additional information, contact Julian at 662-609-5850 or visit