Todd Curtis, Vice President of Operations
As a young police officer I remember being told to leave a home by an abuser. I had just let him out of the back of my patrol car. I had just talked to his wife who I knew he had just repeatedly struck in the face; trying to understand what she told me as she talked through a cold washcloth she held to her split open lip. She told me she had fallen and was clumsy. I had told her I knew that wasn’t how her face got like that. She trembled and told me it couldn’t be another way and refused to say anything further. I knew she had been warned what would happen to her if “he” went to jail. After the abuser left my patrol car he smiled at me told me I was not wanted on his property. He hugged his condition victim from behind. She stared at the ground. This was a time when police stood powerless as the domestic violence victim would be influenced by their abuser into retracting their complaint of domestic violence. There were several times I left a residence shaking my head and wondering what just happened? How did this happen? It was a time that without a complaint signed by the victim, the police could do nothing.
Thankfully the procedure for handling domestic violence incidents has changed greatly over my career. We are getting better but my hope is to have a universal protocol in place so there is no variance, confusion, or frustration for all those involved. We need to make a difference in the way we as first responders handle the domestic violence incident in its entirety. Most first responders don’t know all the resources available to help. Most victims are not aware either. The training available for dealing with these incidents has not been adequate across the board. If we are thorough in our duties then we can help begin the healing process for the victims. We can help give them strength and empowerment to move forward without fear. I am excited to be a part of Standing Courageous as I feel this organization truly has the ability to accomplish this and help greatly reduce the cycle of family violence.
Julia Benfield, Director of Programs
12 years ago when I started at a new hospital, the nurse in charge of their Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) division asked me if I wanted to be a SANE nurse. Not knowing what the heck that was, I said “Sure!” and my life has never been the same. We saw all the domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and elder abuse cases. My role was collecting evidence, taking pictures, and thoroughly documenting each case. Working night weekends in a downtown hospital, I got the worst of the worst, and one night I got the case to top them all…a coworker who had been strangled. If I hadn’t changed by all the interpersonal violence I had seen before, I certainly was now. That case, as well as many of the pediatric cases I have done, stuck with me and spurred me on when I was mentally drained. This is why I am part of Standing Courageous. I have been a staunch advocate for victims in my role as a nurse, and I want to continue that advocacy in my roles outside the hospital. In my role as a charge nurse, I often say that my whole job is to solve problems, fill holes, and fight fires in a busy ER. My hope is that Standing Courageous can do the same with the needs for interpersonal violence education in our communities and in this country.