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Published: Wednesday, 8/8/2007

New program installs electronic home security systems for domestic violence victims free

BY LAREN WEBER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

One local victim of domestic violence stands out in the mind of Sgt. Andrea Luna, of the Lucas County Sheriff s Office, as someone who had done everything right.

Unlike many women in her situation, she got a protection order against her husband, from whom she was separated, and testified against him in court.

The jury found him not guilty, Sergeant Luna said.

The look of fear on the woman s face after the jury returned the verdict motivated Sergeant Luna to search for a program that could offer more protection to domestic violence victims.

She basically ran out of the courtroom, Sergeant Luna said. She [was] going home to get her kids and get out of here.

Sponsored by ADT Security, the AWARE program donates and installs electronic security systems for free in the houses of domestic violence victims who are facing imminent danger.

The program is being announced at 10 a.m. today at the county s EMS Training Center, 2127 Jefferson Ave.

To qualify to have a system installed, victims must have a restraining order against the attacker or at least have attempted to get one and also agree to testify against them in court if the defendant is arrested as a result of the security system, said Ann Lindstrom, an ADT spokesman.

The system includes an alarm pendant, which can be worn or carried with the victim. If the individual is being attacked, the victim can press a button, sending an immediate, silent alarm to ADT, which then notifies the appropriate law enforcement agency.

All she has to do is press that button, Sergeant Luna said. She doesn t have to say Hello, she doesn t have to say to the dispatcher, I need help.

The pendant also allows the victims, who often live in constant fear, some freedom, Ms. Lindstrom said.

It s another tool to help a person really free themselves from a deadly circumstance, she said.

The AWARE program is active in about 170 communities across the country, including Cincinnati and Youngstown.

The security system is estimated to have saved more than 30 lives of domestic violence victims, though it is hard to determine an exact number, Ms. Lindstrom said.

Nationally, it s estimated that 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

The organization also reports that almost one-third of female homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner, according to the 2000 FBI Uniform Crime Report.

Domestic violence continues to be a very large program that crosses every barrier, Ms. Lindstrom said. It s not unique to rural or urban areas.

Sergeant Luna said some of the abused women she encounters become paralyzed with the fear of being hurt or even killed if they go to the police.

But the sergeant said she sees an almost immediate change in the victims behavior after they are removed from the violent situation.

Even a day later or two days later, I can hear the change in their voices, she said. They re happier, they re talking louder, [and] they even look better.

Although the security system won t erase all the victims problems, Sergeant Luna said at least it will provide them with a little comfort.

It s going to give them a peace of mind, she said.

Contact Laren Weber at: lweber@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.



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