How Effective is an Order of Protection?

(KATV) Just this month, Channel Seven reported on disturbing cases of domestic violence, three were murder suicides. (click on the links under the picture to see those stories)

Historically, Arkansas ranks in the top ten nationally for domestic homicides, in many of those cases there was an order of protection. That was the case in the murder suicide Monday outside the victim's workplace. It happened at about 8 a.m. in the Saline Memorial Hospice parking lot.

Monday, 39-year old nurse, Jenny Marie Cavender was shot to death in her car, her last seconds were unimaginable. Police say she attempted to unbuckle her seatbelt and run, but her ex-boyfriend Ronnie Odell Stewart already had her in his sight and unloaded a clip from his 40-caliber hand gun in her direction and then killed himself.

Cavender had an order of protection against Stewart for fear of his actions.

Sheriff Bruce Pennington with the Saline County Sheriff's Office says, "Is it perfect? No, as we have seen. But it's the best thing we have now in law enforcement to protect an individual."

In most cases people comply or try and see what they can get away with, this is one of the extreme cases that will affect families for a lifetime.

Sheriff Pennington adds, "The good thing about having that order, we do not have to have a warrant to make an arrest, whereas in another type of crime you would have to have a warrant. With an order of protection we can make an arrest without a warrant so it is good to have in place as a paper trail.

Sheriff Pennington says in one case an inmate was in jail for domestic abuse, the victim got an order of protection but the inmate continued to call from jail and had more charges added to his case.

Jayne Ann Kita is the Executive Director for the Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ACADV). She says, "We sit down and think what could we have done differently?"

The ACADV held a meeting Tuesday to come up with ideas to improve laws to help men and women who fear for their lives. Kita adds, "Nothing is full proof, but it can help."

Last year Saline County courts averaged 30 to 40 protection orders against men and women each month.

In addition to an order of protection, you're encouraged to keep in touch with a shelter, have a safe word with friends, family and co-workers and tell neighbors to keep an eye out for the person and the car they drive.

You don't have to be present to violate an order of protection; it can be a text or even getting a third party to communicate to the victim for you.

In 2009, the State House of Representatives approved a bill making it a felony to violate a protective order after the first violation. Before it was a misdemeanor, no matter how many times someone violated it.

According to the National Center for Victims of Crime:

  • 60 percent of protective orders are violated within one year; 29 percent of those involve severe violence.
  • 44 percent of protective order violations result in arrest; that number increases to 76 percent for the "highest risk" situations.
  • 69 percent of women and 81 percent of men who have obtained a protective order against a stalker say the order has been violated.
  • In 21 percent of cases, violence and stalking escalate after the protective order is issued.
  • 2.4 years is the median number of years of abuse before filing a protective order.
  • 25 percent of victims suffer for more than five years before seeking a protective order.
  • 81 percent of victims say the most recent incident was not the first.
  • 36 percent of victims say the most recent incident was not the worst.