Domestic violence: there is a way out
So far in 2013, the Thomasville Police Department has answered 785 domestic violence calls.
The Oct. 7 call on Leach Avenue, where a 33-year-old woman was doused in gasoline and set on fire, was described by police as particularly heinous.
"The investigation reveals the assault culminated after a domestic dispute between Angela and Portugal Byas," said Detective Brad Saintsing in a press release. "She was the victim of severe burns. This was a particularly heinous crime. It was verbal dispute that escalated."
The couple’s two daughters, ages 14 and 15 years old, witnessed the incident and fled to a neighbor, who called 911.
Portugal Byas, 69, has been charged with attempted murder and arson of their home.
Saintsing said Portugal and Angela Byas have a history of domestic violence but specific details were not provided.
Lt. Kimberly Sebastian did not comment specifically about the Byas case, but described common triggers in domestic violence.
“Unemployment, stress and substance abuse are some of the factors which lead to an increase in domestic related issues,” said Sebastian.
She explained why people do not leave abusive relationships.
“Fear is the prime reason given by most victims for not leaving the abuser,” she continued. “Statistics show that a woman will try to leave an abusive relationship seven times before she is able to escape.”
There is a way out.
“You can find help and you can turn to agencies such as Thomasville, Lexington, Denton police departments, the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office and Family Services of Davidson County for information and assistance,” she added.
Those same agencies on Oct. 4 joined forces for a domestic violence peace vigil, where survivor stories and inspiration music was shared.
The vigil served as a call to action to end domestic violence.
According to the N.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence, some of the signs to look for in a battering personality are verbal abuse, a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality, past assaults and threats of violence.
“Domestic violence is defined when two people get into an intimate relationship and one person uses a pattern of coercion and control against the other person during the relationship and/or after the relationship has terminated,” Sebastian said.
Portugal Byas was placed in the Davidson County Jail and issued no bond.
Angela Byas, who was initially transported to Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center and airlifted to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
As of Oct. 9, Angela Byas remained in critical but stable condition.