A victim of domestic violence in Connecticut may actually end up in handcuffs.
A new report finds Connecticut’s dual arrest rate more than doubles the national average when it comes to arresting both people in domestic violence cases.
Nationwide, both parties in a domestic violence incident are arrested seven percent of the time when police intervene, but in Connecticut, that number raises to 20 percent.
Sanna Dilawar, a Connecticut mom who says she is domestic violence survivor, said law enforcement policies should "not shame those who've been abused because it's already so hard. It's such a difficult situation, you never know what's it's like until you're actually in it."
“It wore me down so much, I didn't know who I was anymore,” Dilawar told NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters.
Dilawar said when verbal and emotional abuse she experienced turned physical, she knew she and her newborn needed to leave the situation.
“He had me pinned up against a wardrobe, punching me. I wasn't fighting back at first and then something just switched inside of me, that if he's treating me like this, how is he going to treat our daughter? So, I started fighting back," Dilawar added.
Dilawar said she managed to free herself, grab her daughter and get to the police station to press charges to give a statement.
"I told him everything like I fought back and that [my former partner] had scratches on his face. He was empathetic and he seemed to believe me, but he was like ‘Unfortunately, we have to arrest you.’ He said 'I'm sorry, but I have to arrest you.’" Dilawar said.
Police arrested both she and her alleged abuser. While all charges were later dropped, the devastation was already done.
“I felt like I did something wrong coming to police and yet, I did something right to get myself and daughter out of this," Dilawar added.
Karen Jarmoc, the executive director at the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV), said the new report is “extremely troubling.”
CCADV analyzed court and arrest data and spoke experts about the dual arrest policy.
“There are ways through language for law enforcement to decide who's the dominant aggressor and make that arrest. This isn't rocket science. Other states are doing it and doing it well,” Jarmoc said.
States like Rhode Island have a 2 to 5 percent dual arrest rate with a mandatory arrest of the police identified aggressor, according to Jarmoc.
“We have to try to make a difference and try to make things better not only for ourselves but our children. And my purpose is to help bring my story out and do my best to make a change,” Jarmoc added.
The Susan B. Anthony Project in Torrington helped Dilawar.
Jarmoc said she's working with Connecticut lawmakers to create a clause in legislation allowing for the identification of that dominant aggressor by police