Greene County works to end domestic violence
A Springfield man will spend decades behind bars for violent crimes.
Greg Marvin's history of domestic violence added years to his sentence.
The stigma associated with domestic violence can leave those abused feeling like there's no way out.
We spoke with Marvin's ex-wife Friday. She believes his conviction sets a precedent and serves as the launching point for change.
"It can't be the victim's fault. The only person at fault is the abuser," she said.
Janice Gehrke was once married to and abused by Greg Marvin.
He's was convicted of first degree assault, armed criminal action and first degree domestic assault after beating his ex-girlfriend and shooting her new boyfriend in the parking lot of Bass Pro Shops in October 2016.
Gehrke was able to get away from Marvin and now helps others escape their abusers.
"They need to know they're not judged for being a victim. It's not your fault. None of us are perfect. None of us deserve that no matter what. Maybe you didn't make the best decision but do any of us," she said.
She filed several restraining orders against Marvin. It wasn't until his conviction Thursday that she felt the justice system took a stand against domestic violence in Greene County.
"I don't think that people really understand how difficult it is to go through this process," said Gehrke.
County officials understand. They will be launching a new program aimed at ending domestic violence.
"We have a half a million dollars per year, every year going towards that program," said Presiding Greene County Commissioner, Bob Cirtin.
Gehrke said, "They understand that we have a problem here and that we're trying to make it as easy for you as possible so that you don't have to go through this. That you don't lose faith and stay and having something get worse or feel like you deserve this."
"Dan Patterson the prosecutor and Jim Arnott the sheriff and Paul Williams the Springfield Police Chief, they are working on this plan. It's going to be similar to a one stop shop," said Cirtin.
Resources will be made available to not only pull those abused out of their situations, but hold the abusers accountable to the fullest extent of the law.
"It gives me so much hope to hear so many people coming together and really caring about this," said Gehrke.
Gehrke knows how vital these resources will be.
"Having everything together is going to save so much stress and anxiety for people going through this. It's an excellent idea and I look forward to them putting it in place," she said.
She's hoping that this effort will bring the community one step closer toward ending domestic violence.
"They're sending a clear message that it's time to change this and that they're going to do as much as they can to facilitate that change," she said.
Officials have set aside a half million dollars a year in the county's budget for the domestic violence program. They are in the planning stages of their domestic violence program.