Building STRONGER GENERATIONS for at-risk women

Domestic abuse: finding help and hope

october, 2004

In Greenbelt, a mother of five is stabbed to death hours after being denied an emergency protective order against her boyfriend.

In Fairfax County, a woman eight months pregnant is gunned down in her front yard following a fight with the father of her baby.

In Laurel, police shoot and kill a man after responding to a violent domestic abuse call. Those three deadly incidents of domestic violence occurred in the Washington area just in the past six days-a trend police say is all too common.

In Virginia last year, 46 women were killed at the hands of someone who claimed to love them. And in Maryland, police investigated 38 domestic homicides last year.

Arlington resident Corrine Skye knows what it's like to face death at the hands of someone she trusted.

One night, Skye's boyfriend held a pistol to her head after a day of drinking and fighting. And she spent one Christmas Eve in the emergency room with head injuries and a torn stomach lining. That beating was so bad, the doctor was convinced she'd been attacked on the street.

"I felt like it was my fault," Skye said Tuesday. "If I did things the way I was supposed to, if I was a better cook, if I didn't talk back, this wouldn't happen."

Skye eventually realized her abusive relationships with her boyfriend and first husband weren't her fault. Today, she helps other women trying to make the same transition.

"It wasn't something you talked about in my culture," said Skye, a full-blooded Lakota Indian. "Everybody knows it's there. But getting away from the abuser, it's definitely a process. It's a process some women don't survive."

Skye works for Second Chance Employment Services, a Washington-based non-profit agency that helps abused women find well-paying jobs and restart their lives after escaping domestic violence.

Since 2002, agency director Ludy Green has helped 179 women escape domestic violence by showing them how to become financially independent.

"It's important for victims to know that there are resources out there for every step in the process," Green said.

Police, courts, social services and non-profit groups offer victims and their children protective orders, hotline phone numbers, safe houses, job placement, counseling and medical care.

But experts say the victim has to make the decision to get away from the situation. Doreen McClendon was trying to do just that Tuesday night. {Related story: Family Grapples With Deadly Domestic Dispute )

Her boyfriend, Kevin Maurice Tinsley, 38, remained on the loose Wednesday after the stabbing death of his live-in girlfriend at their Greenbelt apartment.

Officers had been to the apartment about 12 hours before the killing, offering McClendon information on how to obtain a protective order against Tinsley.

"Earlier in the evening, we responded to the address because Miss McClendon wanted information on how she could get her boyfriend out of the house," city police spokesman George Mathews said.

A commissioner later denied her petition, saying there was no evidence her boyfriend was a threat to her.

Police allege that Tinsley was "lying in wait" when McClendon arrived home about 1:30 a.m. She was stabbed repeatedly and died at the scene.

Tinsley's car was later found abandoned in the 5900 block of Richmond Highway in Fairfax.

Police used dogs and a helicopter to search for him through the night, but Tinsley managed to escape the dragnet.

Police say McClendon had five children ranging in age from 18 to one.

In Fairfax County, detectives are searching for Darius T. Hicks, who is accused of gunning down Shawndre N. Fulton, 21, in Mount Vernon Woods Park last Thursday. Fulton was eight months pregnant at the time.

According to the activist group Women's Rural Advocacy Programs, 60% of all battered women are beaten while they are pregnant.

"There are a lot of programs out there to help victims in need," Skye said. "Back when I was in that situation, I had gone to the police a couple of times. They basically told me I was wasting their time. They said I was just going to go back. Today they would not have turned me away.

In one sense, it's somehow sunk in with society that this is a problem. But in another, we still have a long way to go when this just keeps happening over and over every day."

Written By 9 News Online Reporter,
Kari Pugh

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