This story by the NPR affiliate in Pittsburgh discusses the particular challenges facing rural victims of domestic violence: lack of anonymity, lack of services, and spatial isolation that removes them from sources of assistance--both law enforcement or their neighbors. The reporter, Larkin Page-Jacobs, focuses on micropolitan Indiana County, Pennsylvania, population 89,298, a bit east of Allegheny County and Pittsburgh. Page-Jacobs uses the narrative of a domestic violence victim, "C," to illustrate these challenges.
On average, a victim tries to leave her partner seven times. But it is when a victim attempts to separate from a batterer that she is most at risk. It was during one those attempts that C was ambushed by her estranged husband. She was in hiding, living in an apartment she had found with the help of a shelter. It took her husband a single day of walking the roads, one by one, to spot her car and where she was staying. With a gun in his waistband and his hand clamped around her wrist, he drove her to their home in a borough of a few hundred residents in Clearfield County.* * *C said she knew law enforcement might not be able to stop him [from following through on his threats]. Response time can be excruciatingly slow in rural communities: State police are tasked with patrolling more than half of the state’s nearly 2,565 hundred municipalities – most of them in rural areas. With so many miles to cover, it can take emergency services 30 to 45 minutes to reach the scene of a crime.
“There was no houses around us, and the houses that were in a three mile range were either his family members, or his family members’ friends,” she recalled.
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“The night the assault occurred, that’s why he took me there. There’s no one. If you take off running you’ve got farm fields.”