|Loving Them To Death
Domestic Violence Hits Home
By LIZ GOFF
It was really very simple shed
had it with him. Adela Buitrago was tired of the lame excuses, the lies and the
sugar-coated half truths Pedro Game used to convince her to remain in their 18-month
relationship. Buitrago had recently learned the truth about this man who called himself
"William." His real name was Pedro Game, he was married and a father.
Adela Buitrago of Elmhurst and Pedro
Game before she learned of his lies and their attraction turned fatal.
The lies had gone full circle,
Buitragos brother, Gabriel Escobar, said. She wanted out of the relationship and she
told Game so.
Pedro didnt take the news very well.
He threatened to kill Buitrago and began stalking her. On Wednesday, Nov. 24, his rage
turned outward, Escobar said. Game kidnapped Adela and held her for eight hours,
threatening to choke the life out of her. Escobar accompanied his sister to the police,
where she filed a complaint against Game for domestic violence.
Buitrago wasnt shocked to see Game
when burst into Alexs Club in Astoria on Sunday morning, Nov. 28. He came through
the door of the basement club at about 10:40 a.m., crazed with anger seeking vengeance,
police said. Adela ran for a staircase to the street. But the 35-year-old cashier/waitress
never made it. Pedro made good on his threats, pumping several rounds from an automatic
weapon into the young mother of a six-year-old girl.
Game stood over the womans body as
police from the 114th Precinct responded to frantic 911 calls. They entered the staircase
and were forced to retreat when Game pressed the barrel of the gun against his own chin.
Outside, police sharpshooters lined the
street outside the pool hall and NYPD hostage negotiators worked the phones. They
convinced Game to give up but not until he had held police and the neighborhood at
bay for two hours. Game stepped onto the street at about 12:25 p.m., police said, lowering
ADELA WAS NOT ALONE
Adela Buitrago wasnt alone in her
suffering. According to police, she was one of 30 "partners" killed in Queens
since January 1998 victims of a murderous relationship. There were 11 murders
attributed to domestic violence in 1998, and 19 as of Oct. 31, 1999 a 72.7 percent
increase, despite NYPD efforts to intervene and counsel partners in troubled
relationships, authorities said.
Described as spur-of-the-moment crimes of
passion, murders involving domestic partners are almost impossible to prevent when one
person has revenge, tempered by rage, on his or her mind, officials said. No amount of
intervention or counseling will stop someone bent on murder, they said.
Research indicates that more women are
victims of domestic violence in the United States than are victims of robbery and other
physical crimes combined. Studies have proven that a woman is beaten by a domestic partner
once every nine seconds in this country.
Domestic violence shows no prejudice. It
crosses all lines ethnic, economic, religious, racial and even age. Abused women
come in all categories married, single, separated. They are professionals,
homemakers, with or without children. And they are suffering at the hands of a man who
"promised to love them more than anything in the world" suffering that is
physical, emotional, or both.
The national cost of this abuse is
estimated at about $900 million a year, according to a study performed for the Rush
Medical Center in Chicago. And that figure does not reflect the nearly 50 percent of
domestic violence incidents that are never reported to police or hospitals.
The personal cost of such abuse is
immeasurable. Most victims fear whether they and their children will have food, shelter
and clothing if they leave their abuser. And if the violence escalates to a
life-threatening degree, a woman fears that her abuser will seek her out and kill her
just for revenge. And all the while she wonders: How did love do this to me?
Studies indicate that domestic violence is
"learned behavior" no one was born with an urge, or the rage, to abuse a
partner. Children learn from example. And children whose parents abused each other are
more likely to abuse their own partners when they grow up, studies indicate.
Cultural forces may also contribute to
patterns of abuse, experts said. Women from Middle-Eastern countries, Latinos, Mexicans
and women from some European countries often sacrifice themselves for their families,
making sure their spouse and children are well cared for. They traditionally marry or live
with men who provide well for them, but who make all of the decisions, who tell them how
to dress, where to go and what to do.
Such men fall into traditional patterns,
experts said, demanding complete respect and compliance from the woman. And failure of the
woman to comply is often translated into violence "If she doesnt do as I
say, Ill hit her until she complies."
According to the N.Y. Chapter of the
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the cycle of abuse is typically culminated
after a buildup of tension that leads to an emotional or physical rampage. It is usually
followed by a period of apologies, studies showed. And at its worst, the cycle culminates
Forty-two percent of women are killed by
their husbands or boyfriends, according to a study conducted by the Coalition.
Abusers can seek out help, the study said.
But most dont until they are ordered to do so by a judge. An estimated 65 percent of
men who attend counseling to overcome patterns of abuse have been ordered to attend by a
court and only three percent of those men change their abuse patterns because of
such counseling, the study revealed.
The New York City Police Department
expanded its domestic violence program in 1987, linking existing services with the
citys Victim Services Agency, the Queens District Attorneys Office and the
N.Y. State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence.
These combined services offer a wide range
of programs for people who find themselves in a violent environment. The services often
include a network of shelters, safe homes, advocacy services, support groups and child
counseling services. The program provides information on the legal rights of victims,
criminal sanctions against abusers and local resources for families in domestic violence
In cases where a victim calls 911 for help,
police are required to make an arrest upon the victims request, and if they observe
physical signs of abuse on the victim even if the victim opposes the arrest.
If the victim refuses to press criminal
charges against the abuser, the NYPD follows up on conditions in the home through a series
of letters, phone calls and personal visits. Each precinct in Queens (and citywide) has at
least one Domestic Violence Officer assigned to handle incidents of abuse. Each of these
officers receives special training for the assignment, including training in intervention
significantly in the area of "repeat violence," NYPD officials said.
If the police are called, they must come
and investigate the complaint, and the call may very well result in the arrest of the
abuser. If the victim has an Order of Protection, the police must arrest the abuser,
ordering him or her to stay away. If the order is ignored, the abuser can be arrested.
Victims are advised that Orders of
Protection are not a written guarantee that the abuser will stay away. The court-ordered
documents are enforced by the courts and police when a victim calls 911 for help
and produces a copy of the order to officers who respond.
The Orders of Protection must be hand
delivered to the abuser, and court personnel advise victims at the time the order is
issued that they may go to their local precinct to ask for a police escort when they serve
But once the abuser has the document, it is
almost impossible, law enforcement officials said, to follow up on the actions they take
toward the victim. It is essential to the victims well-being that they contact
police and the courts at the slightest infraction of the order by the abuser. Dont
wait until its too late, officials said.
If the victim takes the abuser to court,
the judge may choose to "hold him over" for a hearing, he may be fined, placed
on probation, ordered to attend a batterers intervention program, or sentenced to jail
time, depending on the circumstances and on the victims willingness to cooperate
Studies have shown that most women want
only to stop the abuse, not to jail their abusers. Many women fear retaliation if the men
are arrested, so they do not file charges. It is much more common, sources said, for women
to seek Orders of Protection.
Most women are likely to return to their
abusers many times before deciding to separate from him or seek legal protection. In the
meantime, she may turn to friends or family for help with adjusting to her situation.
Police and domestic violence experts agree if you want to help a victim of abuse,
listen to them, show support and caring, and let them know that they are not responsible
for the violence. But most importantly, give them help and support in finding a way out.
Help them to seek help, experts said.
In 1998 alone, 20,000 women were killed in
the country through incidents of domestic violence, statistics show. For many of those
women, the final violence came after they left their batterers or as with Adela
Buitrago, as they tried to leave.
Abusive men, just like water, seek their
own level, said the Chicago study. Counselors advise battered women that they must
change. He is not going to.
Gabriel Escobar believes something is very
wrong with the way city hospital workers monitor those in the Kings County Hospital
Escobar was left speechless, in shock, on
Tuesday, Nov. 30, when Pedro Game called the family home to "explain" what went
wrong and why he killed Buitrago.
Escobar notified police after he received the bizarre call,
and they notified hospital personnel. Sources later revealed that hospital staffers were
unaware of the call until police notified them. Officials said they would "look
into" the incident to determine how Game was able to phone Escobar.