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Local Advocate: Domestic Violence Epidemic in Metro Milwaukee

Sara Maternowski

Perhaps ironically, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

According to Carmen Pitre, co-executive director of Milwaukee's Sojourner Family Peace Center, "the incidence of of domestic violence is at epidemic proportions in Milwaukee County."

Pitre defines domestic violence as:

- A pattern of coercion and control in relationships, the use of force - and it can always end in tragedy, although most cases do not.

Pitre says communities can provide victims with tools to remain safe, but ultimately the person is on their own. "If you have a batterer who is devoting all their time to that (wanting to hurt you), protecting yourself and your family can be relentless. We cannot police people 24 hours a day," she says.

Pitre says her agency has served more than 10,000 people in person in Milwaukee County, with 7 cases ending in homicide.

Do restraining orders work?

"They absolutely do work in some cases...with some batterers, they are intent on hurting the person in their life and the violence will escalate...with that type of batterer, a legal order of protection does not work as well...but in the majoprity of cases, it does work. The police department looks for these orders...they create a barrier between you and that person trying to hurt you," Pitre says.

Do workers have an obligation to tell their employer about restraining orders and threats of violence?

"We tell our clients about the value of working with their employer...(because) the workplace is the single most predictable place if I want to hurt you. I can find you at work, I know where you are...so we adovacate that our clients at least try to let their employers know. A lot don't want to, and that is understandable. Some employers say they have a suspicion...we tell them the information should be respected and the client not penalized," Pitre says.