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Domestic violence by the numbers

By Pam Cunningham, Reporter
Published On: Jun 04 2013 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 04 2013 10:25:48 PM CDT

Domestic violence by the numbers

READING, Pa. -

It's a daily crime that's reported at hospitals and at the courthouse. But, just how prevalent is domestic abuse in Berks County? Here is a closer look at the numbers.

Police respond to all different crimes. And the first weekend in June was typical. There were at least seven domestic disputes in Berks County that resulted in criminal charges.

"We could talk about statistics how many thousands, hundreds or thousands of people are served but we can barely keep up," said Christine Gilfillan, associate director at Berks Women in Crisis.

Berks Women in Crisis has a rapid response team working 24/7.

"At the hospitals, it's when someone has been injured or raped," said Gilfillan, "At the courthouse, it's when someone needs to apply for an emergency protection order."

Eleven people went to a judge this past weekend to request a Protection From Abuse order or PFA. Sometimes they work.

"He stayed away a couple days, I think it was because the first time and he was kind of shock like wow she really called the cops on me," said "Kristy," a domestic violence victim.
"Kristy" said she left her abuser of five years three weeks ago. She's had three PFAs.

"I get a call from the police and they're telling me I need to go get another one because the one I filed last night was not valid and it's already too late because he's sitting right there," said "Kristy."

Several PFAs were violated this past weekend. One man allegedly called his victim after being served and yelled, "why you have to do that? You're gonna be going to jail too. You don't know who I am, I got someone coming for you."

"Kristy" said the fear is very real.

"He would punch me. He would do things you couldn't see afterwards," said "Kristy."

Court documents pile up, and they are just one measure of how common domestic abuse is in Berks. "Kristy" said she is one of many who decided to leave without going to the courthouse.

"My sister sent a text message and said if you don't answer in the next ten minutes I'm going to send the police over there," said "Kristy," "He said, 'I'm going to give them a reason to call the cops.' Inside I'm so terrified that I couldn't even breath because I knew at that point he was going to do something to me."

According to Berks Women in Crisis since 1999, 45 people have died in Berks County from domestic abuse. And every day an uncountable number are suffering.