Following a number of high-profile abuse cases, including a woman allegedly beaten by her boyfriend her inside her Buffalo apartment Tuesday, victims' advocates want people to know more about orders of protection.
A domestic violence survivor named Jennifer, who did not want her full name disclosed, said her relationship went from toxic to outright dangerous when she tried to cut it off.
"I did get up enough courage to go to a police station a few months before he actually attacked me, because I knew it was getting out of control, and they didn't help me. They said he wasn't breaking any laws. And there wasn't anything they could do. And they sort of just dismissed me," she said.
Finally, Jennifer did get an order of protection.
"He kept breaking the restraining order, and he would just get a slap on the wrist each time. He broke it between seven and nine times. For me, that made me feel even more powerless, like my life wasn't worth anything, and it gave him a bigger sense of self and ego. He really thought no one could touch him," she said.
And then he tried to kill her.
Today, she's moved forward with her life and works to educate others about unhealthy relationships, how to protect yourself, and the resources available. One of those is the Family Justice Center.
"When somebody is linked with a domestic violence advocate, their chances of getting out, and getting out safely, skyrocket. They get a handle on the lethality potential. You're not going to do that walking into court fixated on a couple things that happened the night before," said Mary Travers Murphy, the Family Justice Center executive director.
They work to support people in abusive relationships by creating safety plans, providing counseling and helping them get restraining orders.
"The result of fatality reviews on thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of women who went in for an order of protection denied, a day later, a week later, a month later: dead. Well, what happened? They were denied the order of protection, yet the level of danger was off the chain," said Travers Murphy.
Family Justice Center advocates are able to help victims Skype with a judge to get an emergency order of protection without even having to be in the courtroom. Then, it's their responsibility to share it with their neighbors, friends and coworkers so they can help protect them by calling police every time the order is violated.
"You give an abuser an inch, they will take a mile. We explain that to them. You can't even let one text go by without picking up the phone, calling police, the second it's violated," said Travers Murphy.
And if police don't respond, an advocate will call supervisors within the department to get charges filed. Jennifer says had she been linked with an advocate, she doesn't think her ex would have been able to attack her.
Anyone who needs help can call the Family Justice Center at 716-558-SAFE — that's 716-558-7233.