District Court judge talks to new judges about domestic violence victims

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Rowan County Chief District Court Judge Charlie Brown explained in a lecture to 27 new judges why domestic violence victims often stay with their batterers.
Brown spoke Thursday to newly elected or appointed judges at the N.C. Judicial College in Chapel Hill.
In 2008, domestic violence claimed the lives of 81 North Carolinians. Brown’s lecture focused on why victims remain with or return to their batterers.
In response to a victim’s efforts to leave, abusers frequently reassert control by escalating the lethality of violence, he said.Although the decision to stay with an abuser seems illogical, victims face many barriers to escape, including financial dependence, lack of housing, fear of losing custody of children and belief in the abuser’s expression of remorse.
Staying with a batterer is often a survival tactic, he said.
Brown told the new judges that leaving a violent relationship is a process, not a one-time event. He cautioned that judges might not know where victims are in that process when they come into contact with the court system.
The School of Government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill invited Brown to speak. All new judges must complete a two-week curriculum, which covers a broad range of legal topics including domestic violence.
Brown was elected to the District Court bench in 1998 and appointed chief judge in 2001.