After Dearborn Heights murders, what can communities do to protect victims of domestic violence?

Oct 3, 2016

A couple of weeks ago in Dearborn Heights, four children were killed and their mother was bound, slashed with a box cutter and shot in the foot.

The man charged with the crime is her husband. The same man murdered his previous wife in 1991.

To talk about the best ways to hold domestic violence assailants accountable and keeping victims or potential victims safe, we turned to Barbara Niess-May, director of SafeHouse Center in Washtenaw County.

Niess-May told us that while domestic violence might look from the outside like something that happens in an instant, it’s really a long term problem.

“Domestic violence is a situation that builds up over time,” she told us. “It knows no socioeconomic status and it can happen to just about anybody.”

Some key factors she pointed to in the fight to protect victims of domestic violence:

  • Victims must know that there are others willing to support them

  • Police officers must avoid growing callous about domestic violence just because they see it a lot

  • Victims need to know there are safe places to go, like SafeHouse

  • The system must hold the assailant accountable


In our conversation above, Niess-May tells us about domestic violence and how the community needs to come together to protect victims.

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