Panel Addresses Domestic Violence in Tennessee
Angela Burchell Beverly walked outside of her home early on the morning of September 24th, 2014. There, she was confronted by her estranged husband, Andrew. One of Angela’s friends recalls watching the ex-couple argue before Andrew produced a gun and fatally shot Angela.
“A physical altercation took place,” says the warrant for Andrew Beverly’s arrest. “Angela Beverly screamed for help, [her friend] Jabari Dial exited the residence and witnessed the defendant, Andrew Beverly holding Angela Beverly around her shoulders and head and then witnessed Andrew Beverly shoot Angela Beverly with what he described as a small black firearm.”
This wasn’t the first time violence erupted between the couple.
According to court records, Andrew Beverly physically assaulted his wife Angela at about 12:30 a.m. on Aug. 8 of the same year.
“He attacked me and threw me to the ground,” Angela told authorities. “He put me in a choke hold and cut the blood flow off in my body, causing damage to my eye. He bruised my body very badly.”
Just a few months later, Angela was dead.
Her story, along with the stories of many other domestic abuse victims, was the subject of a symposium held at Tennessee’s South College late last month. A 90-minute discussion preceded a candlelight vigil held in Burchell-Beverly’s honor.
The symposium took place in the form of a panel discussion composed of school and law enforcement officials, as well as experts on domestic abuse and family law.
Topics ranged from warning signs of domestic violence to advice on getting help.
4th Circuit Court Judge Greg McMillan said the most common causes of domestic abuse are mental health issues, substance abuse, and economic woes. He further stated that pressures outside of the relationship can boil over into violent abuse.
“When it’s good, we all get along,” he said, “and when it’s bad, we go to hell in a hand basket.”
Another panelist, Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch, told the audience that the city has been an increase in aggravated assaults in 2015. Many of them, he said, are cases of domestic abuse.
“You don’t need to worry about the people you don’t know, you need to worry about the people you do know,” he said.
Other panelists spoke about the wide-ranging variety of domestic abuse cases, driving home the point that there is no one typical domestic abuse victim.
Debbie Maline, an assistant attorney general, told the audience that domestic violence victims rarely fit into a specific mold. YWCA executive director Alle Lilly said domestic violence is an issue that affects everyone, and can happen to anyone.
“The more awareness we raise in the community, the more we are going to be able to reach the victims,” Lilly said.
Panelist Elizabeth Newman, from the Knoxville Family Crisis Center, warned that abusive relationships get worse over time.
“Domestic abusers can be very charming,” she said.
A personal story came from Amy Rowling, of the Knox County Health Department. She says she became involved in an abusive relationship after a period of loneliness following a break up.
She met her ex-partner on a blind date, and says things weren’t immediately problematic. Soon, however, he became intensely jealous, and prevented her from going out or spending time with other people.
“I stayed because I kept thinking I needed the friendship,” she said.
She was eventually able to escape from the abusive relationship, but notes how difficult it can be to break away fully.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, domestic violence accounted for 21 percent of all violent crime between 2003 and 2012.