#WhyIStayed: Perceptions, Protections, and Problems with Domestic Abuse in Iowa

Sep 18, 2014

Tiffany Allison breathed a sigh of relief when she learned her former attacker was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

But the sigh of relief only lasted a moment, as her victim’s advocate turned to her and said they’d be lucky if he was put away for three. Because of “good time,” violent offenders, including batterers, often serve only a small fraction of their sentences. She says given the nature of domestic violence offenders, that’s a huge problem.

“As victims of this crime, every time he’s released, our whole life changes. I’m not less afraid of him today than I was five years ago.”

Allison is far from the only Iowan affected by domestic violence. Christie Doser is the executive director of the Domestic Violence Intervention Program in Iowa City. She says one in every three women is battered in her lifetime.

"I'm not less afraid of him today than I was five years ago." -Tiffany Allison

Fortunately, she says, Iowa was one of the first states to enact laws for the victims of domestic violence. But Allison’s case shows that there’s more work to be done. She’s drafted legislation to require three-time violent offenders to serve a minimum sentence of five years and a minimum of 85 percent of their sentences.

On this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Allison and Doser about how Iowa handles domestic violence and what still needs to be done. Kenny Moon, a retired Des Moines police officer who handled domestic abuse cases before more stringent laws were in place, also joins the conversation.