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To help domestic violence victims it's important to know facts

Did you know that there are 245 active missing persons cases now ongoing in Louisiana? That's the word from an official with the Forensic Anthropology and Computer enhancement Services Laboratory at LSU.

These are outlier cases in one way. According to the official, who spoke as part of a recent community event in Breaux Bridge aimed at raising public awareness about missing persons, hundreds of people go missing in the state every month. Fortunately, most are found within a week. That sets the long-term cases apart and organizers of the event say they don't want those cases falling off law enforcement radar.

It is a sad reality that many a missing person story includes an element of domestic violence. For example, there is the case of Crystal Grebinger as highlighted by the Breaux Bridge event. The 32-year-old mother of four disappeared in 2013. She was last seen walking out of a Lafayette shelter for abused women.

As Grebinger's aunt noted, this kind of tragedy ripples broadly through whole families and communities. She said the message of the event was to stress the importance of people trusting each other, taking action, and speaking up when someone goes missing.

And that gets to another aspect of missing persons cases that many people may not appreciate. People have a misconceived notion that police can't take a report about a missing person until they've been gone for a certain amount of time. That is not the case, as the official from LSU reinforced. "There is no time period where you need to wait," she said. Moreover, the sooner a report is filed, the better the chances are of finding a victim quickly.

Because domestic violence can be a factor in so many of these kinds of cases, the law also provides the means by which individuals who are abused can seek protective orders. Such orders can take many forms and knowing which might be most appropriate for your situation is something to discuss with an experienced family law attorney.

Options for help exist, but they need to be taken advantage of.

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