Domestic violence raises concerns in Rexburg
Rexburg police receive approximately two to three calls each week regarding domestic violence involving BYU-Idaho students, according to Captain Randy Lewis of the Rexburg Police Department.
“We do have domestic violence here, more than it should be,” Lewis said.
Lewis said that domestic violence is a complicated issue, which makes the statistics for domestic violence hard to define.
“Domestic violence is not black and white,” Lewis said.
Lewis said that the police want to be informed if someone is in danger, but they are not there to settle arguments.
“People expect us to referee for them; we are not there to be counselors,” Lewis said.
Lewis said the Rexburg Family Crisis Center and the BYU-Idaho Counseling Center have been a great support to the police, and that he recommends their services to anyone who is being abused or seeking counseling services.
Margie Harris, director of the Rexburg Family Crisis Center, said that those who have experience with domestic violence agree on the fact that it is not about anger.
“Domestic violence is about power and control in an intimate relationship. It’s not about anger, it is not an anger management problem,” Harris said.
Harris said that approximately half of the victims at the Family Crisis Center have not been physically abused, but were emotionally abused.
She said that abusers can use money, intimidation, and religious teachings quoted out of context to control the victim.
Lewis said that initial calls about domestic violence are often reduced to a lesser charge, in order to avoid the heavy penalties that come with a domestic violence conviction.
Lewis said the police sometimes receive false reports in which the alleged victim inflicts self-harm and then blames their spouse.
“We just had a woman ‘call’ last night and say she had been cut, but the wounds were self-inflicted,” Lewis said.
Lewis said the police have also seen an increase in the number of men who are being hurt by their wives.
He said that any unlawful touching, including pushing, striking, spitting, and throwing will be addressed by the police, and the perpetrator will be arrested, regardless of gender.
“It is wrong to push or hurt any person,” Lewis said.
According to the Domestic Violence Recovery Center, the majority of domestic violence calls are made regarding the safety of women — both in Rexburg and nationally.
“A lot of times the woman is intimidated, and so it is the neighbors who make the call,” Lewis said.
Harris said that victims often have a hard time making the phone call to get help.
“Approximately 50 percent of the calls we get are from concerned family members or friends,” Harris said.
Harris said the worst thing a person can do is assume it’s someone else’s problem and turn a blind eye to the situation.
If someone knows someone who is in an abusive situation, Harris said you should call the Family Crisis Center at 208-356-0065; this number is available 24 hours a day.
Harris said that if they are in immediate danger, to call 911.
Harris also said the worst thing someone can say is “I would never let someone treat me that way.”
She said one should be patient and supportive when helping someone who is being abused.
Lewis said he is concerned that couples are getting married before they are ready.
“These quick three-, six-, nine-month marriages are not working. They’re finding out that there are serious mental issues; they’re not knowing who they’re marrying,” Lewis said.
Lewis said that he is concerned BYU-I students are too hasty when making the commitment of
“Some of these girls are so naive. … A guy comes along and sweeps them off their feet, and then they marry him and find themselves in a domestic violence situation,” Lewis said.
Gwenaelle Couliard, a counselor at the BYU-I Counseling Center said that often there is a net that keeps the abused in the relationship.
“He is my dream guy. He has helped me, so I’m going to help him. If I love him enough, it will fix him,” Couliard said.
Couliard said that the first thing that needs to happen for the abused is for them to recognize that they are abused.
“The person who is abused doesn’t always realize what is going on; it’s like a frog that has been put in cold water, and little by little the temperature goes up, and so they don’t know they are being cooked,” Couliard said.
Couliard said that the abuse cycle is maintained by both love and fear.
“They love their spouse, but they fear their spouse. So there is a fear of losing the spouse, the fear of being punished, the fear of losing the honeymoon phase of ‘please forgive me,’ the showering of gifts, love and attention,” Couliard said.
Couliard said that domestic violence is complicated and it takes several entities to help overcome the problem.
“It is going to take a team: the police, neighbors, the Family Crisis Center and therapists to provide shelter, support, and education,” Couliard said.
Information can be found at the abusive relationship page for the BYU-I Counseling Center at www.byui.edu/counseling-center.