It seems so simple. We can save lives with 11 questions.
But then, most people understand domestic violence is far from simple. Police officers dread domestic disturbance calls because of the danger when impassioned or enraged people are tearing through the film that separates love from hate, emotion from attack.
St. Clair County sheriff’s deputies, prosecutors and domestic violence advocates for a month have been separating domestic combatants and asking 11 questions. If a weapon, threat of death or fear of death has ever been present, an advocate is immediately brought in to help the victim with a plan to stay safe. Other questions are asked to delve into the relationship history to ensure the potential for violence is made apparent to both the victim and those charged with keeping the victim safe.
Eleven questions won’t stop every domestic murder, but the simple tool will prevent some.
At 6 p.m. Thursday, the Violence Prevention Center of Southwestern Illinois will again hold a candlelight vigil to bring awareness to domestic violence and honor those never asked the 11 questions. The vigil will be at Lindenwood University-Belleville, 2600 W. Main St. in Belleville because college-aged people face the greatest threat of stalking, and dating violence touches one in three women by age 20.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. That would be a great time for more local police agencies to adopt the 11 questions and train their officers.