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Domestic violence in North Carolina

Spousal abuse can be a difficult thing to fight. Though it happens every day and in every state in the nation, domestic violence often hides unreported within private relationships, only coming to light in the event of a terrible tragedy.

One such tragedy occurred earlier this month, when a 27-year-old North Carolina woman was found dead in her apartment. Police say she had been shot by her boyfriend, who then turned the gun on himself.

Nor is this woman's case unique. According to the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, over 750 people have died as a result of domestic violence in our state. Unfortunately, for every fatal tragedy we hear about, there are likely many more nonfatal abuses that go unreported.

One in four women are victims of domestic violence, a shockingly high number for a crime that is made public so infrequently. Not all forms of domestic violence are physical, of course-it can be mental or verbal as well. But no matter how it's delivered, domestic abuse is a crime.

A victims advocate at Family Services of the Piedmont reported that domestic abuse is extremely widespread, and it does not discriminate between classes or neighborhoods. She says that she handles at least five new cases of domestic abuse every day-and those are just the reported incidents. "As far as statistics," she said, "it's hard to tell sometimes with domestic violence because they are scared, sometimes they don't know it's a crime."

Reporting a spouses' abuse, therefore, is the best way receive help in a domestic violence situation. Spouses who are concerned about their long-term safety or the safety of their children may consider requesting a 50B domestic violence protective order, also known as a restraining order. These documents can provide a legal mandate for abusive spouses to terminate their relationship with their former partners, giving the victims of domestic abuse the freedom to move forward with their lives.

Source: WFMY-TV, " Expert: Domestic Violence Lives in Every Neighborhood," Morgan Hightower, Oct. 14, 2012