SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – In an effort to combat domestic violence, Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson has created a new unit dedicated to prosecuting cases of domestic assault, violations of orders of protection, stalking and harassment.

According to a press release from Greene County Commission, Greene County has the third-highest rate of domestic violence incidents in the State of Missouri.

Domestic violence crimes can be some of the most difficult for victims to identify and report, as an abuser often has control over the victim’s home, finances, and everyday activities.

Social stigma also adds to the difficulty of these cases, as victims may feel ashamed to come forward about the violence they have endured at home. Because of the dynamics of these relationships, victims are often reluctant to separate from their abuser and are also hesitant to assist in prosecution.

The Domestic Violence Unit (DVU) was formed in January of this year to focus only on these cases.

Greene County’s Domestic Violence Unit

“People assume they don’t know a domestic violence victim,” Emily Shook a First Assitant Prosecuting Attorney and the head of the DVU, said. “They associate it with gender or socioeconomic status, but domestic violence is very prevalent in Greene County. It’s very likely we all know someone who’s been abused.”

Each week, the assistant prosecutors in DVU take turns staffing the Family Justice Center (FJC), and take responsibility for evaluating and charging all the domestic violence cases that are referred by law enforcement that week.

The attorney stationed at the FJC each week has the opportunity to not only meet with victims, but also connect them with other partner agencies to engage in therapy, obtain legal aid to file for divorce or an order of protection, seek housing assistance, and more. 

Shook says if a victim needs support or wants assistance making a plan to safely escape an abusive relationship, they should reach out to the FJC.  “Domestic violence dynamics create complicated and difficult situations for victims,” she said.