Domestic violence: 'These things are real and they are happening here in Kingman'

KINGMAN - Lee Williams High School Resource Officer Phil Hudgens got up close and personal with the school's freshmen Tuesday during a day-long presentation to physical education and health classes about the dangers of domestic violence.

Hudgens, also an officer with the Kingman Police Department, described two local fatalities that were caused by domestic violence. His speech was part of a forum sponsored by the nonprofit agency Kingman Aid to Abused People. KAAP provides free support and services to families dealing with domestic and other types of violence.

"These things are real and they are happening here in Kingman," said Hudgens. "That's why if you're involved in a relationship that could get dangerous, you need to let others know. My goal as a school resource officer is to make sure students are safe and successful. I'm here for a reason and my office is always open.

"I don't want to have to come back up here 10 years from now and use one of you as an example of a domestic violence fatality."

The forum was part of Lee Williams' focus during October on bullying prevention and domestic violence awareness.

On Oct. 9, students participated in National Unity Day by wearing orange, the national bullying prevention color. On Oct. 17, they observed National Megan's Pledge Day in honor of 13-year-old Megan Meier, who hung herself after being cyber-bullied, and heard a presentation about cyber-bullying from the University of Arizona's Southwest Institute for Research on Women.

The second annual Lee Williams Students Against Violence Everywhere Club's slippers and socks donation drive will take place Nov. 1-20 at the school. Donations of slippers and socks, sizes infant to adult, can be dropped off at the school's reception office. The donations will be given to KAAP for victims of domestic violence.

As students listened, Hudgens discussed the law enforcement side of domestic violence, noting it happens between more than just husbands and wives.

It can include parents and grown children, brothers and sisters or boyfriends and girlfriends. It also takes time to escalate, said Hudgens, and domestic violence arrests are made because of extenuating factors, such as disorderly conduct or criminal damage.

The two local fatalities are prime examples of how domestic violence situations sometimes end, said Hudgens.

Darrell Ketchner was convicted of murder March 7 in the 2009 fatal stabbing of his long-time girlfriend's daughter, Ariel Allison. Ketchner also shot and stabbed the girlfriend, Jennifer Allison, who is the mother of three of his children.

The other fatality involved Holly Mack, a Kingman High School graduate who died Aug. 2, 2009, after she was fatally shot by her husband at a friend's house four months after filing for divorce.

He shot Mack as she handed their 15-month-old daughter, Bailey, to police officers who responded to the scene, then killed himself. The uninjured toddler was adopted by Mack's sister and is now 5 years old.

During the forum, KAAP employees explained the definition of domestic violence, which is behavior that includes threats of violence or intimidation to gain power and control over another person.

They also read from a list called "Love Is, Love Isn't," which detailed some of the attributes of love, including respect, commitment, and trust. It also listed some actions often passed off erroneously as part of love, such as obsession, fear and dependency.

Students also studied a power wheel, a device that shows how abusers gain power and control through their actions, including the use of isolation, intimidation, blaming, economic power and emotional abuse.

Jennifer Frey, a victim's advocate with KAAP, said that while the power wheel doesn't list all the behavior exhibited by abusers, it includes the most common techniques to control their victims.

According to the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in four women and one in 12 men are victims of domestic violence each year in the state.

Almost one-third of female homicide victims in Arizona are killed by an intimate partner.

In 2012, there were 139 domestic violence-related fatalities in Arizona.

Kristin Finch, 14, a freshman, listened intently to the speakers, including Brett, a female survivor of domestic violence who moved to Kingman with her four children ranging in age from 5 to 13 years old to get away from her third abusive relationship.

She quickly sought help from KAAP, which provides a pet-friendly emergency shelter, 24-hour crisis line, crisis counseling, legal and personal advocacy, and a children's program.

"I've heard of domestic violence before, but this training has really increased my awareness of it," said Finch. "I could relate to the officer's stories about the victims because they were personal.

"They made me realize that domestic violence could be really bad and that I don't want it to happen to me. And that there are people to talk to if you find yourself in such a situation. No one has to live that way."