In Texas, one in three natives will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
Still, advocates say when families leave, it doesn’t always end the abuse. In fact, stalking can follow; right now 61 percent of female victims are stalked by a current or former intimate partner.
One Central Texas woman had the courage to leave her abuser, but she says the fear isn’t gone. She is struggling to get law enforcement to help keep her former abuser and current stalker away.
“Probably what got me to the point of needing to make changes in my life, threats to my life, and that made me afraid for the kids,” says “Vicky.”
We’re calling this woman “Vicky,” she is afraid for her life, but she has chosen to share her story after domestic abuse.
For our interview, we concealed her identity – but we wondered if she looked forward to the day where we can show her face.
“I look forward to the day when I can be free of the fear,” Vicky says.
She left her abuser, her monster, her husband two years ago after decades with him.
“There is a constant fear. [I’m] afraid to be in my house. I’m afraid to be out of my house. I drive around the block hoping that nobody is following me. I choose where I go shopping very carefully. I always watch my back. I’m afraid everywhere I go,” Vicky says.
Vicky is now a victim of stalking.
“I never know when someone’s going to be sitting in a car outside my house there, waiting around the block for me,” Vicky describes. “I’ve tried to involve police and filed a police report and wanted to try to get a protective order.”
But so far, it’s been a dead end.
“It’s very difficult to get a protective order. They said that there wasn’t enough evidence of stalking, so this [has] been going on for a couple of years, off and on. And it’s still not enough to warrant a pattern for them to issue a protective order,” Vicky says.
The last time “Vicky” had unwanted contact with her abuser was last month.
“Just when you start to think that maybe you can relax your car, just a little bit, something happens again. And that person is back in. The fear factor starts all over again,” Vicky explains.
“Vicky” says she has received death threats and seen suspicious activity at her home.
“Unless you have cameras following you around everywhere, you don’t have photographic evidence. So then it’s trying to place somebody at a scene. And if they’re sneaky, [with that] kind of personality, it’s hard to make that excess time and place location,” Vicky said.
“Are the death threats against your life not enough evidence?” we asked.
“Apparently not. Maybe because I don’t have them recorded. Maybe that would make a difference? But that doesn’t make them any less real. And that doesn’t make me any less afraid,” Vicky explains.
“One of the challenges in dealing with law-enforcement in prosecution with these cases is that context is so crucial,” says Family Abuse Center Director of Outreach and Legal Advocacy, Micah Titterington. “Without the context or the meaning behind those actions, it’s hard to take those cases seriously.”
Titterington dedicates his time to informing our officers and prosecutors about stalking.
“Documentation is so important because you might be able to report one or two things. But that may not amount to an actual stalking crime yet, and law enforcement won’t be able to do anything. And so, what you really have to do is really inform the victims that so much of this, unfortunately, is going to fall on you to document everything that’s been happening,” Titterington says.
He says officers and prosecutors have their own homework, as well.
“I think there’s just simply lack of experience sometimes with these. As we actually start to take these types of crimes more seriously, as we start to actually pursue stock and protective orders, actually take this case is more seriously try to build stalking cases instead of just settling for harassment or other crime. But as we gain that experience and say, ‘Hey, we can actually do this.’ I think that’s something that can actually make the system better,” Titterington says.
Legally, we wondered if it’s better if these victims were getting beat.
“There’s a point where that’s true, because it’s usually very clear whether it’s happened or not. And with an assault, usually the victim is going to know exactly who did it. And there might be even witnesses to that. So, with that, it’s very easy to prosecute because it’s very black and white,”Titterington explains.
For victims, it’s the fear of losing their life that makes it very black and white.
“I don’t want to be the next person on that list,” Vicky says. “I don’t want my friends to be the next person on the list. I feel like it’s [an] extremely important thing to protect women if there’s any kind of history of violence.”
“It’s chilling to say. It’s a very difficult realization that if you’re at the wrong place at the wrong time, or if you do something to upset the abuser and he shows up in your life, shows up at your door, she’s across the street, that somehow you could be that next statistic,” Vicky said.
While “Vicky” understands the crime can be difficult to track, she’s pleading for her own life.
“Please make it an easier process to get a protective order because there are hundreds of women across Texas who have been killed,” Vicky says.
FOX44 also spoke with the Prosecutor’s Office, who says they believe the laws are sufficient and say prosecuting, stalking and getting more stalking protective orders can only be addressed with more education and documentation.
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