Scottsdale’s affluence didn’t prevent more than 1,300 reports of domestic violence from being filed last year, officials noted Thursday at a breakfast devoted to the topic.
“We get people who make six-figure salaries and higher to those individuals who have three families living in their residence because that’s what they need to do to get by,” said Scottsdale domestic violence specialist Tracey Wilkinson.
The city had 1,324 reports of domestic violence in 2005, according to those who attended the monthly Mayor and City Council Breakfast. That number doesn’t count the untold cases that are never reported, said Mayor Mary Manross, who leads the Maricopa Association of Governments Regional Domestic Violence Council.
With Scottsdale’s range of residents from the very poor to the outrageously wealthy, Wilkinson said occurrences of domestic violence may manifest themselves in different ways.
“There might be a woman in some part of Scottsdale driving an Escalade with her cell phone with her at all times . . . not because she might break down, but because her batterer can reach her 24 hours a day,” she said.
There also are more women of low socioeconomic status in shelters because they don’t have the resources wealthier women might, Wilkinson said.
“They don’t have a credit card to go to a hotel, or a family to put you on a plane and go back to California to be safe with supportive family members,” she said.
But the underlying similarity between all domestic violence cases is the obsession with control.
“It’s a pattern of behavior where one person tries to get power or control over another,” Wilkinson said. “And the victims are most likely women and children.”
Former Scottsdale resident Lorel Stevens has seen it firsthand.
Stevens, who now lives in Phoenix, was asked to speak at the breakfast about her experience with domestic violence, which started with sexual abuse as a child and later returned in a violent marriage.
Stevens said she met her husband in high school. “I thought he was really great,” she said. “He didn’t have ‘abuser’ tattooed on his forehead.”
But gradually, he became more controlling and manipulative. The abuse continued for years until an incident at work caught the attention of Stevens’ boss. Her husband had lashed out during a visit to her office on a Saturday morning. Her supervisor witnessed the violence, which included punching, kicking and verbal abuse.
The next Monday, Stevens found information about the Phoenix Family Advocacy Center on her desk. The center helped her form a plan to get away. Once she left her husband, he was arrested and sentenced to a year of probation and counseling. The two still see each other as they share joint custody of their son, she said.
Stevens travels statewide to tell her story and work with survivors of domestic violence.
“My life is bigger now than I ever could have imagined,” she said.