Kalamazoo County is taking a new approach to address domestic violence.
The county unveiled its plan for a "trauma court" on Monday. It's a program that would consider the past trauma and abuse that perpetrators of domestic violence have experienced in their lives, operating under the idea that "hurt people hurt people."
Jeffrey Getting is the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor, and is part of the team proposing this new kind of court.
He says that the county prosecutes approximately 1,000 domestic violence cases each year. Around one-third of the perpetrators charged in those cases are repeat offenders. In this proposed court, those repeat offenders would be given specialized treatment that addresses the root of their behavior. That includes taking a closer look at potential psychological trauma they’ve experienced.
Jessica Glynn is the senior director of law and policy for the Kalamazoo YWCA, which offers counseling and advocacy for survivors of domestic violence. Glynn says the nonprofit is in support of the trauma court.
“The reality is our current system isn’t working. We see the vast majority of people perpetrating domestic violence continue down that path with their current victim or another,” Glynn said. “So addressing the root cause is compelling.”
Domestic violence is an issue that impacts families from all socio-economic groups, says Glynn. But she says middle and upper-middle class families are more likely to deal with it through divorce and child custody cases, rather than in criminal court.
Getting says he hopes the trauma court can be part of a solution to bring down the overall rate of domestic violence in Kalamazoo County.
During this interview, Jessica Glynn said the number one cause of death for women is intimate partner violence. That is incorrect. Intimate partner violence is the number one cause of homicide of women worldwide, according to a 2018 United Nations report.