Are You Suffering Domestic Abuse? Investigators Need You to Take These Pro-Active Steps
By Clarence Walker
According to a domestic violence advocacy group, over 200 people were murdered by their spouses or intimate partners in Texas in 2021. Statewide statistics for 2022 haven't been made available yet. The Texas Council on Family Violence(TCFV) and the author of the report tracked 204 homicides related to domestic violence, a decrease from 228 homicides in 2020, the group reported.tcfv.org/wp-content/uploads/tcfv_htv_rprt_2021.pdf Harris County in Houston, Texas, led the state with 46 homicides related to domestic abuse. VIctims that were killed across the state ranged in age from 16-85, according to the report, which included 165 women, 35 men and 12 people identified as LGBTQ individuals. The report also showed more than half the victims were Black or Hispanic, and that most of the fatalities occurred at a residence.
"Their lives reflected the richness and diversity of our state," said Mikisha Hooper, coordinator community response manager for TCFV, and the author of the report. "They gave back to their community, they had dreams for their career, their education and children."
Hooper blasted the access to guns. "Statutes are there to protect survivors, but the mechanisms for removing firearms from people who shouldn't have them--or confirming that they don't have them--isn't in place in most communities," Hooper pointed out.
Houston Police officials reported that 'strangulation' calls related to domestic violence increased 130 percent in the first year of the coronavarius, and that, so far in 2022, the agency reported 55 related homicides involved prior domestic abuse, with 65 such homicides in 2021.
Despite the brutality of domestic violence it can also be one of the most difficult accusations to prove in court if there aren't conclusive proof such as lack of visible wounds, blood, extensive swelling, and particularly when the abuser inflict pain upon the other person's body by punching or kicking the person or ramming a person's head against the wall, window or vehicle. Since this kind of abuse doesn't leave external scars the most people can hope for is rely on other forms of evidence. Most times police will take a domestic abuse report, but if there are no visible signs of abuse or a medical report indicating internal injuries, charges may not be filed.
So, in situations like this, private investigators in Houston can collect evidence in a unique way to prove in a court of law the abuse happened or for other purposes-- if the couple are married or just living together as a couple, and have one or more children together.
Domestic Violence is an Epidemic Without Barriers
Domestic violence affects humanity in every community, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background. The National Coalition against Domestic Violence has found that one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. In rare instances, men are abused by women. Outside Houston is Missouri City, Texas. A Missouri City police officer identified as Robin Williams, 32, who is a candidate for Houston Mayor has been charged with beating her boyfriend, striking him repeatedly with a baton, and she even punched the guy in the mouth. Worse, on another occasion, Williams shocked her boyfriend with a department issued taser causing the man to suffer tremendous pain.houstonpublicmedia.org/articles/police/2023/01/11/441103/missouri-city-officer-houston-mayor-candidate-robin-williams-assaulting-boyfriend-accusations
Since domestic violence situations typically include physical violence, intimidation, psychological abuse, and threatening behavior, many victims are hesitant to report incidences to the proper authorities. However, when domestic violence is reported and if Personal Injury claims from Domestic Violence are filed, hiring a Private investigator to conduct investigations related to the matter is one of the best and effective ways to document abuse and gather evidence to use in court.
Conducting Background Checks on Potential Mates
There are no magic bullet to weed out potential abusers but Houston-based Private investigator Debbie Adams, co-owner of Garner & Adams Investigations on Westheimer Street, told NewsBreak. Adams explained that if a woman is interested in committing themselves to an intimate relationship they should, take the words of an old blues song, called "Take time to KnowThem" --"when you're talking about committment, you should have that person's background investigated by hiring a private investigator". Police officers aren't allowed to investigate people's background for the general public unless the person is the target of a criminal investigation. Adams, affectionally known in the entertainment circle as Ms. Debbie, she has worked the club scene as a comedian and the emcee of talent shows throughout Houston. She minces no words about men who prey on women to abuse them.
"It's worth the investment to learn about people because they may have criminal record as a sex offender, and can not be around your children or grandchildren." Adams admit that not everyone is a criminal or domestic abuser, yet she insist that these days women cannot be too careful to check out who they're involved with. "What a woman should often look for in a man, Adams add, is stability, including a person's credit." "If the credit is pretty good then at least the person is responsible for taking care their personal business."
Adams further said the role of private investigators in domestic violence cases are very important. She said the investigator "can document evidence of the abuse that can be legally admissible in a court of law, including in divorce and child custody battles." Since domestic abuse is a highly sensitive situation family members or close friends can also hire private investigator if they suspect that a love one is suffering abuse in silence. Due to an extensive backlog in domestic violence cases in Houston/Harris County, Texas, and in the Greater Houston area, as result of the coronavarius pandemic that shut down many criminal justice and family law courtrooms, Garner & Adams investigations are preparing to work an avanlanche of cases for different agencies, and individuals in 2023. "Domestic violence is big in larger cities," Adams stated to NewsBreak.
How a Private Investigator Can Help when Police Aren't Involved
The role of the private eye in these cases is very important. The Investigator can gather documentation and evidence of the abuse that may be used in any legal proceedings, including divorce and child custody agreements. Due to the sensitive nature of domestic abuse and the fear that victims may have, family members or friends may also hire private investigators if they suspect that a loved one is being abused.
One of the best ways to prove physical abuse is through photographs. Domestic Violence Private Investigators should take pictures of injuries and document the time and date they occur. Verbal or emotional abuse may be documented by recording phone conversations, saving emails, or installing hidden cameras. The private investigator may also interview family members, friends, and co-workers to establish that the accused has violent or abusive tendencies. The investigator can gather the relevant medical histories of the abused/abuser to see if there are any previous instances of abuse.
Private Investigators Suggest These Steps Must Be Done to Help Abused Victims
According to Garner & Adams, a person usually ask themselves, “Should I hire a private investigator,” here are some things to consider. Domestic violence is often difficult to prove because many victims are hesitant to report the abuse. He or she is embarrassed, does not realize the seriousness of the problem, or too frightened, or the abuser threatens to take away the children and/or withhold access to the funds to pay expenses.
Furthermore, domestic violence often occurs on private property and often without witnesses. In cases where there is stalking or coercive control, there may be no obvious proof of psychological and verbal abuse nor bodily abuse. But nevertheless the continuing acts of abuse comes in all forms.
A family lawyer will initiate the necessary legal action to obtain domestic violence restraining orders, as well as orders for custody and support. They will also work with a victim to retain a private investigator whose job is to help with obtaining evidence of abuse to support the legal action.
Adams said independent investigators can obtain evidence using various means. There are many ways an investigator can find supporting evidence to make a case against an abuser in civil or family court including the following:
- Doing a background investigation of the abuser to find prior instances of domestic violence, news articles, arrest/convictions, and family members, friends, and co-workers to interview.
- Taking pictures of injuries from physical abuse, and documenting the time and date they occur.
- Looking for GPS devices on cars, illegal spyware on telephones, and evidence of stalking the victim online to prove tracking, stalking, verbal or emotional abuse.
- Installing equipment including hidden cameras, if appropriate.
Adams offers her tricks of the trade when she investigate people's background.
"Here is what usually shows up," the former comedian host, said: .
- criminal history
- employment verification
- education verification
- social Security Number (SSN) trace
- professional license verification
- sex offender registry search
- pre-employment drug test
- date when person was charged and convicted
- date when person either received probation, served county jail time or went to prison
- date when ss# was issued; which state issued the ss#
- employment verification
Several years ago, Adams experienced an uncomfortable moment when she discovered a potential mate that she admired had followed her one night after she finished a gig and socializing with her friends. "Once I discovered I'd been followed I cursed the young man out; I decided not to move further with the relationship. He didn't know me that well and he was already stalking me. I don't like to be stalked," Adams said, grimacing a wry smile.
The Mask of Domestic Violence
When a happy couple began a blissful relationship the female counterpart usually cannot easily determine the violent nature of the male because most abusive people aappears, sweet, calm, charming, easygoing, and very loveable. Some women who escaped abusive relationships have said their abuser appeared into their lives 'like a Knight in shining armor'. They thought the abuser was someone they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with. Domestic violence experts said the warning signs don't always emerge immediately. Yet, as time passes, a full picture rears its ugly head, revealing the person's true nature.
The Domestic Abuse Hotline Organization provides these warning signs of a potential abuser:
- Telling you that you never do anything right.
- Showing extreme jealousy of your friends or time spent away from them.
- Preventing or discouraging you from spending time with friends, family members, or peers.
- Insulting, demeaning, or shaming you, especially in front of other people.
- Preventing you from making your own decisions, including about working or attending school.
- Controlling finances in the household without discussion, including taking your money or refusing to provide money for necessary expenses.
- Pressuring you to have sex or perform sexual acts you’re not comfortable with.
- Pressuring you to use drugs or alcohol.
- Intimidating you through threatening looks or actions.
- Insulting your parenting or threatening to harm or take away your children or pets. If you or a loved one are a victim of domestic violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for confidential assistance from trained advocates.
For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.
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