Tuesday, May 27, 2014

We Don't Often Talk of Domestic Violence...

Names have been changed to protect the innocent

Sam first appeared on the police radar at the age of 14. First, there were minor thefts and the occasional drinking of liquor in the company of older, ill intentioned, friends and reports of being missing.

By the time Sam was 16 things were becoming worse. Jenny, Sam’s mother, began reporting Sam’s violence towards her and, on more than one occasion, threw Sam out of the house. Sam claimed the house rules were “too strict” and hamstrung the teenager’s attempts to stay out drinking and carousing all night. 

Police attended to their home six times for similar incidents that summer.

After that Sam was no longer welcome in Jenny’s home. The drinking and violence could not be tolerated and Sam, at 16 years of age, was on the street.

It wasn’t long before Sam became involved in a relationship with Jamie. It was a relationship similar to the one with Jenny, turbulent and laced with violence. Soon they needed the police to attend to “keep the peace”. Jamie’s mother made it perfectly clear that Sam was no longer welcome in the family home. Nobody was willing to provide further details on the demise of the relationship and everyone went their separate ways.

… for a little while.

Jamie called 911 at about one o’clock on a Sunday morning crying and saying that Sam had become physically violent. Jamie had been punched hard in the face and Sam had run away when the police were called.

Sam wasn’t fond of the police. A lot of people like Sam aren’t.

Sam was found not very far away, intoxicated, and arrested for domestic assault.

This was Sam’s first domestic assault charge and so, was released with a future court date and conditions to have no contact with Jamie.

The idea behind these release conditions are to impose a “cooling off” period for everyone involved and to afford them the opportunity to rethink their situation and the dynamics of their relationships. The court order directs these two to not have any contact with each other; it’s there to help with the safety of the victim.

A week later Sam got a drunk and decided to drop in on Jamie, unannounced, and found Jamie in bed with a mutual friend. The time for sober reflection had passed and things quickly deteriorated. Alcohol wasn’t the only contributing factor but by the time police arrived everyone was sporting injuries and yet, nobody was talking about who hit who. When all the evidence, or lack of it, was weighed out Sam was arrested for breaching the “no contact” condition and held for morning court.

Neither charge made it to court though. Jamie refused to cooperate in any way and the assault charge was stayed for lack of evidence. Without the original assault charge substantiated there was no interest in pursuing the breach charge. Sam agreed to be bound by a Peace Bond which detailed a no contact condition with Jamie. Everyone hoped the two would go their separate ways.

We were called again, a week later, for another domestic dispute. When Sam heard the police were on route the thought of driving away, intoxicated, made more sense to Sam than the failed attempt to run away on the previous occasion. Sam was located, the car impounded, and an immediate roadside prohibition issued. Jamie still refused to cooperate and no evidence of a physical assault could be found. Sam was arrested for breaching the Peace Bond.

After this, Sam and Jamie decided to take a break from each other. Sam moved back home with mom but it wasn’t long before Jamie showed up drunk, unwanted, and late one night. The police were called and Jamie was sent away.

Only a few weeks passed before the drinking and abusive language wore thin and the police were called to assist with removing Sam from Jenny’s home again.

With seemingly no place else to go, Sam and Jamie moved back in together.

The neighbours called police not long afterwards to report loud voices, banging, and two people fighting. When the police arrived they found that it was Jamie this time that had tried to strangle Sam. Bruising, consistent with strangulation, was evident on Sam’s throat.

Jamie was arrested for assault and, when sober, was released on court documents to have no contact with Sam. Sam was arrested for breaching the Peace Bond for having contact with Jamie and, when sober, was released with more conditions to have no contact with Jamie.

A month later, and in a new location, police were called for a possible domestic dispute. Upon arrival, Sam and Jamie were found in their new apartment. Both were arrested for breaching their no contact conditions with the other and held in custody for court. No evidence of an assault was found.

A month later, and in a new location, police were called for a possible domestic dispute. This time Sam wasn’t satisfied with just beating Jamie and pulled a knife. Although Jamie wasn’t injured with the knife; Sam was charged with assault, uttering threats, and Assault with a weapon. Jamie was arrested for breaching the no contact order with Sam.

Both were held in custody and police strongly opposed their release due to the escalating violence between the two.

All was quiet for two months until Sam was found walking in the middle of the street, at night, and highly intoxicated, contrary to release conditions, and charged with breach of conditions.

That summer Sam entered into a new relationship with Jessie. We attended for a report of a domestic dispute shortly afterwards but found no evidence of an assault. Jessie had taken off prior to police arrival and wasn’t found for a couple of days. Jessie was uncooperative and refused to provide any details of the incident.

The next call was only a week later because Jessie was threatening to do self-harm with a knife and a stove top. Jessie fled prior to police arrival and Sam appeared uncaring and happy to see Jessie’s back. Jessie was located and cared for accordingly but wasn’t happy about it.

Jessie was slightly more cooperative the next time. They were fighting because the two had recently become engaged but now Sam was leaving the relationship and going back to Jamie. The reported smashing and banging had merely been the destruction of mutual property, no offence in that.

Once the two had ended their relationship Jessie became emotionally unstable and began stalking Sam, sending text messages of curious content, and threatening suicide if Sam didn’t come back. Sam called the police, reported Jessie, and switched the phone off.

Over the next few months Jessie came to realize that the relationship with Sam was over and that life would go on.

Sam and Jessie moved back in together and made plans for the future. A future that included police attending to arrest Sam for badly beating Jamie

Sam, or Samantha, is now 20 years old and has 52 police contacts to her name. The spiral of escalating violence in her relationships shows no sign of dissipating despite police and court intervention. To date she has no criminal convictions for any of the alleged assaults on her boyfriends or her mother.


Victoria PD recognizes that violence in relationships manifests itself in many forms. This blog post is not intended to relate a precise formula or template for how domestic violence situations arise. It is simply one of many complicated stories that our officers have to unravel every day, as they go about their public service duties.

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