Valerie Craig sees it all the time.
“Nobody’s going to believe you,” Craig said. “Who do you think you’re going to tell? You’re so stupid.”
Craig is a co-founder of Tennessee Voices for Victims and says abusers often scare victims of domestic violence into not testifying or changing their story.
“It happens in every single case,” she said.
Craig says the calls often come from jail.
“The individual gets arrested,” Craig said. “Then, they’re calling back.”
It’s a scare tactic lawmakers are trying to stop through Senate Bill 611. If passed, the bill would make it illegal to persuade victims of domestic violence to lie, withhold parts of their testimony, or to keep them from showing up to court.
“It’s going to be helpful,” said Assistant District Attorney Chris Buford. “We need all the tools we can use.”
Buford says more than half of the violent crime cases prosecuted by the DA’s office are domestic violence-related.
He says every week, victims change their stories.
“They are some of the most heart-wrenching cases you can think of,” Buford said.
The bill not only applies to the abuser, but to anyone who tries to scare the victim such as the abuser’s family or friends.
“It comes in the form of families coming to court and saying different things,” Buford said.
It’s the type of bullying, Craig says, is at the root of domestic abuse.
“So much of domestic violence is about intimidation and fear and that power and control,” Craig said.