Shortly after I heard about the multiple shootings in Brookfield where 45 year-old Radcliffe Haughton opened fire at the Azana Salon-and-Spa, killing his 42 year-old wife, Zina, along with 35 year-old Cary Robuck of Racine and 38 year-old Maelyn Lind of Oconomowoc and wounding four other women before turning the gun on himself, I came across something posted on Facebook that really hit home for me. A female friend of mine posted the following quote: “Never, ever believe that domestic violence is a private matter.”
A strained marriage tarnished by domestic disputes dating back to 2001 completely unraveled and ended in horrible tragedy. You never want to believe that this kind of thing can really happen, especially in your own community.
In a piece of bitter irony, this tragedy unfolded during October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It also served to call attention – yet again - to the deadly nature of this crime.
According to the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence, there were 40 deaths associated with domestic violence in Wisconsin last year. The victims also included children, and parents of perpetrators. Nationwide, an average of 1,200 victims are killed every year by a domestic partner.
Domestic abuse is NEVER acceptable and we all need to remember that it is not a private matter that just happens within the confines of peoples’ homes. So, when is it appropriate for a third party to intervene and contact the authorities? That’s an individual and a very subjective decision for anyone to make.
Intervening when two people are in the midst of a heated argument is never easy. One time, I even had to step in during court proceedings when tempers were flaring. I reminded the two people involved that, “This thing needs to stop. Otherwise, there is a deputy here and he’s not going to be as kind about this as I am.”
Personally, I would be more proactive towards getting law enforcement or the court system involved if you believe domestic abuse is happening because, regrettably, victims of domestic violence are often hesitant or unable to make claims or the phone calls to protect themselves. That could be because they don’t have the financial means if they were to get kicked out of the house or, perhaps, they are just too scared to make those claims.
Always keep in mind that a situation can escalate from screaming and arguing to the next level where things can turn violent and physical. It can go far beyond pushing and shoving as we saw in Brookfield where the perpetrator not only took the life of his wife but also the lives other innocent people who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The bottom line? Never hesitate to contact law enforcement if you think somebody is being harmed because police are trained for this type of intervention. Don’t think for an instant that, “It can’t happen here.” Tragically, it happened in Brookfield just as it happens all across the country.
If you or someone you know is involved in circumstances involving domestic abuse, there is plenty of help and support available. In Waukesha, contact The Women’s Center at:
Main number: 262.547.4600
24-Hour Crisis Line: 262.542.3828
Toll-Free Crisis Line: 888.542.3828
You can also visit their website at www.twcwaukesha.org
About Attorney Mark Powers
Attorney Mark Powers is a partner at the criminal defense law firm of Huppertz & Powers, S.C. in Waukesha. Previously, Powers served as an Assistant District Attorney with the Waukesha County District Attorney's office as well as a municipal judge in North Prairie. He currently focuses in the area of criminal defense, and has handled many cases involving operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, domestic disputes, and drug offenses.
Powers attended Valparaiso University School of Law, where he received his Juris Doctorate. Prior to law school, Mark attended the University of Wisconsin, Lacrosse where he received his bachelor of science in Political Science.
For more information, please call 272.549.5979 or visit www.waukeshacriminalattorneys.com.