Domestic violence advocates share tools to help potential victims

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Wednesday, September 14, 2022
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Necolle Winstead is a domestic violence survivor and advocate. She now works with a nonprofit to assist other women caught up in similar circumstances.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Necolle Winstead is a domestic violence survivor and advocate. She married her then-abuser at 18 years old.

"It became verbal, and then it became physical," Winstead reflected.

She said it took her a long time to leave, but she did build up the courage to get out.

"I actually knew someone who had a family member within the judicial system and they encouraged me to go to court and get a stay-away order, which I did," she said.

Winstead admits to violating the order herself.

"Total transparency. Even after the stay away was ordered, I still saw him," she said. "When I became serious about it is when I moved and, he flew across the states to see me. At that point, I did file charges, and I did file a stay-away order. And I have not been around him since then."

That was nearly 20 years ago. Now Winstead advocates for other domestic violence survivors through the nonprofit, StandUp-SpeakOut NC. Through the advocacy work, she has witnessed the challenges survivors face trying to get help. She describes her protective order as effective, but for other women, she's worked with that hasn't always been the case.

"At the end of the day, you have to look at people's mental health. The victimizer, you get a stay-away order. If you're not mentally stable, and you're not worried about that at all, your mind is set on that person, you're going to violate that order.

Winstead said the protective order in North Carolina needs retooling.

"I think the system needs to get a stronger hold on the resources that they provide," she said. "You know, and having organizations like Stand up-Speak out North Carolina, is a vital piece of the community."

Nisha Williams, the legal director for the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said when it comes to the violation of restraining orders, you're dealing with the criminal court system.

"The standard to get a restraining order is much lower, vs. the standard to enforce a restraining order violation is much higher because of due process," Williams said.

Williams encourages safety planning as another tool to protect yourself.

"How do I walk away? How do I avoid eye contact? Who can I call if there's an emergency happening," said Williams.

She suggested creating a safe word if there is an emergency happening.

"For example, you can be able to call up your girlfriend and say, Hey, can you order pizza for tonight? I can't, I can't make it to dinner. That could be the code word for saying I'm in danger. Your abuser has no idea. Those are the ways that domestic violence advocates are able and trained to help folk's safety plan," Williams said.

Advocates also encourage keeping a copy of your protective order with you at all times.

"If someone does violate the restraining order, you need to call local law enforcement soon as you know a violation is happening. And then you can also just show them immediately. Here's my restraining order, here's his information. They don't even need to look it up in the system because you have that paperwork right there. It's a way to help be able to advocate for yourself right there on the spot." Williams said.

The North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence offers more tools to help survivors. You can find resources in your community on their site.