Monday, January 24, 2011

“Questioning the questionnaire?”

It seems the University of Oklahoma has come with a screening tool to aid law enforcement and first responders when assisting victims of intimate partner violence. It is a step in the right direction when you take the initial call, but in my opinion, a roll of toilet paper has more value.

The screening tool has 11 questions -- designed to recognize potentially lethal situations and take action? News flash! This will do nothing but kick the safety of an individual to the curb!

According to the news article from a press conference: The tool is a screening questionnaire designed for use at domestic violence calls to help police officers, advocates and health care providers assist victims at risk of even further violence. Whenever possible, responders immediately meet the victim and take him or her to a safe place where they ask the questions. The process takes about 60 seconds and works as sort of a triage tool in domestic violence cases.“This assessment will help first responders recognize a potentially lethal situation and take action,” said Janet Wilson with the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing

After reading the article it made my blood boil. I said to myself “they do not get it.” All I continue to see is more of the same dollars directed at research instead of a prescription that saves lives. A prescription, if you will, that I brought to Oklahoma in the fall of 2010. I was there to assist attorney Jaye Mendros representing the families from the site. I was invited by family members to examine the cases of the Garvin County Three (each unsolved intimate partner homicides)  that also resulted in unseating a Sheriff during the November election. My trip to Oklahoma was, first and foremost, about domestic violence and a prescription for victims during National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Taking action does not include gathering information to see if the number of injuries will be reduced because a first responder circled or checked a box on a questionnaire developed in a study. Studies are little more than data gathered and collected and then entered into a hard wired computer. I have nothing against those who have worked to create this tool. My question for the “researchers” is what do you really know about intimate partner violence harm reduction and response? Have you ever been in the field during a call for assistance? Have you ever been on a crime scene before, during or after a tragedy? Have you ever spoken to a woman directly over the phone and directed her to safety? Do you have an understanding of the inner workings of an abusive and toxic individual? Do you understand the criminal element and Internet as it relates to a potentially violent offender? Has your method worked to keep victims alive?
I am going to take a guess, likely no different than the complied questions and answer, no!

In the majority of murders we are reading about in the news, the danger continues despite the victim’s attempts to get help from traditional sources, or when she informs the abuser she is leaving the relationship or marriage and filing for divorce, it is costing women the lives of women (and men) who do not “qualify” for traditional services their lives. Whatever steps a person takes to leave it often fails because the victim is ill equipped, facing numerous obstacles that require far more then a 11 page questionnaire if she is to get out with her life.

The Answer and the Prescription is the book "Time's Up A Guide on How to Leave and Survive Abusive and Stalking Relationships. Included in the book is also the "EAA" as described below:

Order From Amazon
The Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit and Will: A Victim’s Voice
Domestic violence or intimate partner victims now are able to provide information, in their own words, about the fears, dangers, experiences they have had at the hands of their abuser. With the Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit and Will, victims stories, histories, and experiences are preserved and stored on their behalf. These videos will provide answers to the many questions, allegations, and fears that arise when a person has disappeared, gone missing, or been found dead. Recent cases, such as missing mother Susan Powell of Utah and women like Stacey Peterson where the victim’s police officer husband is the person of interest is the classic example of the benefits of this type of evidence. If Stacey Peterson or any woman found murdered or is missing had done an Evidentiary Will, These women ON TAPE, from following the information in the “Time’s Up Guide book on a flash drive would be able to describe:

- threats made against her life or wellbeing, including details of how the perpetrator would carry out the threat
- incidents of past abuse that the victim has endured
- admissions or comments made to her about other victims or people abused
- where evidence or weapons would or could be located
- possible alibis that the perpetrator would make up in his defense (including identification of people who could be co-defendant’s or co-suspects)
- portray visible injuries or marks

Researched and Developed
Example: After the disappearance of Stacy Peterson missing mother and wife of former Bolingbrook Sergeant Drew Peterson in Bolingbrook, IL, and others who had gone missing or be killed by a boyfriend or spouse, these cases now required an effective legal strategy that would allow their voice to be heard. Example of recent case Synopsis: “Dwayne Giles, who shot and killed his ex-girlfriend in Los Angeles, asked the Supreme Court on in June of 2010 to overturn his murder conviction because he was denied the right to "confront" her in court. (Crawford vs. Washington)"He never had a chance to cross-examine" the victim, said Marilyn G. Burkardt, a Los Angeles lawyer representing Giles. Burkardt called the prosecution's use of his ex's reports of his threats "highly prejudicial." Though it sounds far-fetched, Giles' claim could have prevailed in the high court .

The Supreme Court took up of the case of Giles vs. California to test the outer limits of the so-called confrontation right in the 6th Amendment ( a.k.a. Crawford vs Washington). It says, "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right... to be confronted with the witnesses against him." Until 2004, judges usually allowed jurors to hear "reliable" secondhand accounts of what witnesses said if the witness was not available. For example, a police officer could report on what a missing witness had said. But in a case that year ,Justice Anton Scalia insisted this "hearsay" violated the defendant's rights under the 6th Amendment. "Where testimonial statements are at issue, the only [test] of reliability... is the one the Constitution actually prescribes: confrontation," Scalia said at the time in Crawford vs. Washington.

Hearsay is an out of court statement "offered for the truth of the matter asserted" and not subject to cross-examination, typically because the person or speaker is unavailable. Such statements are deemed unreliable because of the obvious fact that they can easily be fabricated and cannot be tested through cross examination in a court. But, when a victim in fear that her partner will kill her she prepares the “EAA” document, has is witnessed, then notarized, she will read her document in a video she creates from her computer, cell phone etc so if something does happen to her, the video and document are provided to authorities and the person is arrested. If Stacy Peterson had completed this “will statement document” the person responsible would have been arrested.

The Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit and video provides solid admissible legal documentation and answers, for victims such as those murdered in any State and all unsolved intimate partner violence and homicide across cases the county. Allegations and fears that arise when a person has disappeared when they announce the relationship is ending, gone or have been found dead.

In the name of saving lives, I will gladly email a pdf copy of the book "Time's Up" to the University of Oklahoma in hopes you will use a method that has kept victims safe and more importantly, alive. Please email me at

JFK once said, "Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live." Violence is one of those tragedies. You either gain wisdom enough to leave, or you continue to live with it and risk your life."

Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit by Susan Murphy Milano from the Book "Time's Up" from Courage Network on Vimeo.

Susan Murphy Milano is with the Institute for Relational Harm Reduction and Public Pathology Education. She is an expert on intimate partner violence and homicide crimes. For more information visit She is the author of "Time's Up A Guide on How to Leave and SurviveAbusive and Stalking Relationships," available for purchase at the Institute, and wherever books are sold. Susan is the host of The Susan Murphy Milano Show, "Time's Up!" on Here Women Talk is a regular contributor to the nationally syndicated The Roth Show with Dr. Laurie Roth

1 comment:

TigressPen said...

Love the toliet tissue! I agree, although it's great they are paying attention and wanting to do more for the victims. So much more needs to happen with that call to abuse hotline 'if' they answer the questionaire properly. The unmentioned big 'If' is what gets me.

I think they need to hand out a copy of "Time's Up' - at the least a copy of Chapter 4! And they need to get that to All the victims regardless their answers fit the profile of an abused. Otherwise, the questionaire the victims answer is nothing more than data in a survey to me.

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