Two domestic violence fatalities lead to new team in Gloucester

GLOUCESTER, Va. (WAVY) – A local community shaken by two deadly cases of domestic violence says more needs to be done to figure out where things go wrong. That’s why Gloucester County is forming a team tasked with stopping domestic violence, before it’s too late.

The members of the team come from different fields, including law enforcement and victim advocacy. Team members are hoping that bringing people from different backgrounds together can help reduce the amount of deaths caused by domestic violence.

The six-person team may be small, but their goal of reducing fatalities in domestic violence incidents is not.

“There is no racial group that it doesn’t touch, there is no economic group it doesn’t touch, and there is no community that it doesn’t touch. It is pervasive across these counties in Virginia,” said Holly Smith, Gloucester’s Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Smith says the team will analyze fatal domestic violence situations and try to find new ways to fight the issue.

“There is a lesson to be learned from each of them. And from each other those we want to take a look at them, find out what we can do better, what we can do differently, is there anything that can be done differently? And let’s do that.”

Gloucester now joins 19 other groups across Virginia with these teams. Smith says last year’s two domestic violence fatalities led to the creation of the team. While that may seem like a small number, team members say it’s two too many.

“This is a problem, it’s a growing problem,” said Cherie Stone, Executive Director of Laurel Shelter, a shelter for victims of domestic and sexual assault.

Stone was on the domestic violence fatality review team in Mathews County and says the team in Gloucester has the chance to really help victims.

“All of us can work together to try to intercede at a lower level of violence or to create public awareness,” Stone said.

Domestic violence accounts for one-third of all homicides in Virginia each year, according to the State Department of Health. The team hopes to reduce that number.

“Was there some way, some intervention, that we could do, something along the way, or could we have done something better?” Stone asked.

They hope to get involved before it’s too late.

“We absolutely would rather intervene now than have their case be reviewed by the fatality team,” Smith said.

For more information on a team in your area, visit the State Department of Health’s website.