ABUSE ALERT: New Program Helps Victims

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Tuesday, a new statewide program was launched that alerts domestic abuse victims about changes to the protective orders against their abusers. Family members of abuse victims say it’s an important step in the right direction.

“Why my daughter? Why didn't we have a happy ending with her? Why wasn't she one of the ones that was saved,” said Shelia Lynch.

Shelia Lynch's daughter TereseAnn was murdered in 2009 by her estranged husband- a man who had repeatedly abused her.

“There are still so many people that don`t realize domestic violence occurs every single day.  It’s not in the movies, it’s not just in programs for drama, its real and its active and it’s out there every day. And just because someone doesn't walk up to you and tell you what’s happening at home doesn’t mean it’s not happening. They`re scared,” said Lynch.

Lynch believes to erase that fear, more needs to be done to take the power out of the hands of the abusers, and put it into the hands of the victims. The new protective alert system does just that.

“Knowing when their abuser has been served with a protective order can allow a victim to enact their safety plan and be on alert to possible impending violence. It can allow her the opportunity to help ensure the safety of her children and the rest of her family as well,” said Janelle Malone, the Head of Crime Victims Assistance Division in Iowa.

The system can also be used to keep track of changes in the protective order, and find out if it has lapsed or gone out of effect.  Attorney General Tom Miller says the goal isn't directly to keep the abuser from re-offending; it’s more for the victim.

“To provide a service, a peace of mind service, to the victim and be part of all the things we do for the victim and show we are one the victim’s side,” said Attorney General Tom Miller.

Shelia knows firsthand how just much a victim of domestic violence needs that support, and said, “My family of course would have liked the happy ending for my daughter. That can’t happen, but if there are happy endings for other victims out there it’s very important. It makes a huge difference. It makes us feel like she didn't lose her life without something good coming from it.”

Until Tuesday, a protective order wasn't always affective or legal until the offender was actually served, and victim's weren't always aware when and if that happened. But now, with this protective order alert system, the victim is notified right away either with a phone call, or an email.

To sign up for the alerts you can call 1-888-742-8463, or you can register online at www.registervpo.com.