Domestic abuse against a spouse, child, or an entire family is a common occurrence in many households throughout the United States. Under most circumstances, victims are encouraged to respond to domestic violence incidences by contacting the police and letting the authorities handle the situation. Unfortunately, laws put in place to protect neighborhoods from unruly tenants are now discouraging victims of domestic violence who are afraid that contacting the police will result in an eviction.
The laws, known as nuisance property laws, are currently being used in neighborhoods all over the country. The laws allow governing officials to place pressure on landlords to remove rowdy tenants. In some areas, if a tenant calls 911 more than three times in four months their landlords may have them evicted. This has led to some domestic violence victims feeling the need to avoid calling the police, even after a vicious physical assault.
Losing Sight of What’s Right
Lakisha Briggs, a 34-year-old Pennsylvania resident, was reportedly told by police that if she called 911 for assistance one more time, she would be evicted. Briggs called police ten times between January and May of 2013 relating to confrontations with her boyfriend at the time. Her boyfriend was sent to prison, but upon his release he went to Briggs home for a place to stay.
“If I called the police to get him out of my house, I’d get evicted. If I tried to remove him, someone would call the police and I would be evicted,” said Briggs.
A few weeks later, he reportedly beat Briggs, leaving her with a large scar. When neighbors tried to call the police, Briggs begged them not to in an attempt to keep her home. Briggs lost consciousness from her injuries and the neighbors called the police. Under pressure of losing their rental license, Brigg’s landlord was ordered to evict Brigg’s within 10 days.
With help from the American Civil Liberties Union, Briggs filed a lawsuit and officials decided to drop the eviction.
Resources for Domestic Violence Victims
Had the American Civil Liberties Union not stepped in to protect Briggs, it is likely that she would have been evicted from her home following this incident. Those who have suffered injuries as a result of domestic violence are encouraged to utilize the resources available to them and report each incident to their local authorities. Under most circumstances, police will step in to protect you and your family from dangerous individuals.
The following are national resources that domestic violence victims can turn to in time of need:
- The hotline is a national domestic violence resource that can direct those who have recently suffered abuse to help in their area. If you are not sure where to start, the hotline may help.
- Ready to make a change in your community? The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence helps to build coalitions at the state, local, and national levels. If you are dedicated to the cause and are determined to be a part of the solution, take a look at the NCADV.
If you or your loved one are victims of domestic violence, take advantage of the above resources. No one deserves to be abused. Get the help you need to provide a safe haven for yourself and your family now and in the future.