When our public figures are accused of domestic violence (DV), we can use the opportunity to widen awareness of what DV victims face, and how it impacts victims in rural areas differently. Getting help is complicated when the alleged abuser is a public figure. It took nearly a year for the wife of an elected official to get a restraining order against her husband in Western North Carolina. Rep. Cody Henson (R-Transylvania) was served with a 50B Ex Parte Domestic Violence Order of Protection on Jan. 31 , 2019. The situation is being revealed so far in news articles in Transylvania County and Buncombe County. The issue of domestic violence is being explored in public forums, which are currently planned for February and March of 2019.
On 2/7/19, The Carolina Public Press published that an “NC legislator served with domestic violence order of protection,” 2/7/19, Carolina Public Press.
“His wife, Kelsey Henson, told Carolina Public Press on Thursday [2/7/19] that she sought help for nearly a year from law enforcement and others from behavior she describes in court filings as harassment and emotional abuse.”
Julie Owens, a DV expert and consultant who was based in Charlotte wrote, “My heart goes out to his wife. It’s hard enough when the spouse is not a powerful person.”
The restraining order, first court visit, and plans for the case to be heard by an out of county judge were covered in the local Transylvania County paper on 2/7/19 in “Lawmaker Issued Domestic Violence Order.” The Transylvania Times also documented a threat the paper received.
The story continues as “Deputies investigate cyberstalking complaint involving NC legislator,” 2/11/19, Carolina Public Press.
According to the CPP article, “State statute says electronic communications are elevated to the crime of cyberstalking when done “repeatedly, whether or not conversation ensues, for the purpose of abusing, threatening, terrifying, harassing or embarrassing any person.” Cyberstalking is a class 2 misdemeanor.”
Domestic violence is defined as violent or aggressive behavior within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner. In more detail, it can be described as “the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, and emotional/psychological abuse.”
Join NC NOW, SAFE Transylvania and Progress NC at a town hall forum in Brevard on Monday, 2/18/19, to learn more about what victims face and what resources are available. Event notice at DV Town Hall Opens Wider Discussion of Problem, 2/18/19. Facebook event at https://www.facebook.com/events/2035344690098229/.
Carolina Public Press is doing a set of forums around NC in March. More at “Forums to focus on problems with sexual assault, convictions in North Carolina,” 2/11/19, Carolina Public Press.