Domestic Violence: The Risk of Protective Orders

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Lee Libunao Stigger doesn’t remember the beating that nearly killed her. But she lives with its scars every day. At 34, she is learning to walk and talk again. She can’t read or write. The Indianapolis Star says that last Dec. 15 — a month and a half after Lee Stigger filed for divorce and 12 days after she obtained a protective order — her husband, Michael Stigger, broke into her home and attacked her. Her skull was severely fractured; doctors did not expect her to live. But she did. And now, as her estranged husband awaits his June 16 trial, Lee is trying to rebuild her life.

An estimated 6 million women are beaten by their partners every year in the United States. In 2000, 1,247 women were killed by an intimate partner, says the U.S. Department of Justice.

In Marion County, Ind., where 4,438 domestic violence cases were filed and 5,702 protective orders were requested last year, 15 women died as a result of domestic violence. Domestic violence cuts across all socioeconomic groups. Women in abusive situations are 25 times more likely to die after they seek a protective order or file for divorce, said Ann DeLaney of the Julian Center, an Indianapolis shelter for battered women. The risk escalates during the first 60 days after leaving the abuser.


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