'Heroes' honored in battle against domestic violence


By Tom Kirvan
Legal News
When it comes to the topic of domestic violence, there are few stories that feature a happy ending.

That fact was particularly evident last Wednesday, Nov. 14 during a special tribute to 10 victims of domestic violence who have lost their lives in Oakland County over the past two years.

The victims were remembered during the annual Oakland County Domestic Violence Prevention Awards Ceremony, which was held in the Board of Commissioners Auditorium at the Circuit Court complex. The program was sponsored by the Oakland County Coordinating Council Against Domestic Violence, an organization that was founded in 1994 “in order to develop and sustain a coordinated, broad-based community response” to the problem, according to Circuit Judge Edward Sosnick, who was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his dedication and special insight.

The keynote speaker at the event was Anne Bivens, who survived a brutal attack by her boyfriend in May 2009. Her ordeal lasted some 20 minutes and came when she returned to her apartment after work only to find that her boyfriend had been drinking all day.

“He hit me repeatedly and attempted to throw me down a flight of stairs,” Bivens told those gathered for the November 14 program. “I felt it was a life or death situation because he was so violent and so highly intoxicated. Once he was arrested, they discovered that his blood alcohol content was three times over the legal limit.”

Bivens would later find out that she was his “fourth victim,” and that she was “indeed fortunate to have survived” the attack, crediting the quick response from police to her plea for help. Bivens also said she is indebted to HAVEN, the agency in Oakland County that provides counseling to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, for the “immediate and continued support” she has received.

“I hope I can help someone else recognize how important everyone’s work is in this area, and that they can feel safe and supported if they are victimized,” Bivens said.

She can thank Judge Sosnick, who is scheduled to retire at the end of this year, for helping develop the “infrastructure” to aid victims of domestic violence.

Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper, emcee of the program, saluted Judge Sosnick for his tireless efforts to combat the problem and for the “compassion and comfort” he has shown victims during his 28-year career on the bench.

Sosnick, a graduate of Wayne State University Law School, noted that, “I’m old enough to remember when there was no such thing as a ‘shelter,’” although he acknowledged that the effects of the problem are widespread and disturbing.

“It is all of our responsibility to take away some pain, some tears to make this a better world,” Sosnick said of efforts to help victims.

Some of that assistance has been provided by four recipients of the Domestic Violence Hero Award, annual honors that were presented Wednesday. Among the honorees were:
Detective Jeff Niehaus of the Wixom Police Department; Detective Michael Grigsby of the Hazel Park Police Department; Detective Dale Brown of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office;
and John Schaufler of Niles Community High School in Troy.

Recipients of the Domestic Violence Prevention Award were: the Family Law Assistance Project, a collaborative program between Lakeshore Legal Aid and Cooley Law School in Auburn Hills; Greg Komarzec of Oak Park District Court; Christine Ruen of Common Ground; Assistant Prosecutor Shareen Lynch of the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office; Gail Yax of Troy High School; and Frank Rodriquez, a graduate of Waterford Mott High School.


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