Ask-a-Cop – Reporting Domestic Abuse

Welcome back to “Ask-a-Cop.” This is an official question and answer feature on ibrattleboro set up a few years ago. It is written by a Brattleboro police sergeant and all answers are approved by Chief Wrinn before posting. We haven’t had questions in a while but got this one the other day.

If you have a question for Ask-a-Cop, please email it to and put “Ask-a-Cop” in the subject line.

“If I’m aware of domestic abuse problems with another couple, am I required to report it? How can I tell if it is worth reporting?”

There is no legal requirement to report domestic abuse. However there is certainly a moral obligation to do so. As members of society we are all responsible for improving public safety by holding each other accountable for inappropriate, violent, and criminal behavior, including domestic abuse.

The best way to determine whether or not something is “worth” reporting is to use common sense. Think about what is happening and ask yourself if you would want to be treated that way. Any time someone is being pushed, grabbed, or struck (or if it sounds like that is happening) you should call the police. Threats of violence should also result in a call to police.

A lot of controlling and abusive behavior is not a crime. Examples include telling a partner where she is allowed to go and when, checking messages and texts, and controlling her money. Sometimes, if a third party intervenes before a crime is committed, either by pointing out the bad behavior or calling the police, it can prevent the situation from resulting in a violent act. Again – use common sense. If you would not want to be treated that way, chances are the other person does not either. Tell them to stop or call the police.

None of the above should be interpreted to mean people should interject themselves into an unsafe situation. If you witness a violent act, call the police immediately.

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