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      Why domestic violence victims 'aren't to blame' for dropping criminal charges

      Bruising from an alleged attack.

      Mission Police Officer Oscar Cardenas is accused of beating up his wife.

      Photographs obtained by Action 4 News show a busted lip, choke marks and baseball-sized bruising from an alleged attack described by one person as the furthest thing from love.

      "You should never hit anyone, especially someone you love," Oralia Jaure, victim's advocate at the Family Crisis Center in Harlingen said.

      The center is a safe-haven for women and men who've been abused.

      "We can work on leaving the abusive home safely," Oralia explained.

      Typically during the holidays, the agency will see a spike in cases.

      Oralia says as many as 60 cases a month, up from 40.

      The stress from the holidays, drugs and alcohol and lack of communication often play a role with physical abuse, according to Oralia.

      It's a problem facing the entire Rio Grande Valley.

      "We don't want to get involved," Oralia says about people who choose not to report a case. "It's not our problem. It's a family problem. And I think when the community gets involved we're going to see a lot of the crime go down."

      But what happens when a victim decides to stay with an alleged abuser?

      Oralia says factors can include: the holidays, children and money when it comes to the family dynamic.

      The Mission police officer's wife dropped the charges in the case against her husband who she claimed once threatened "to kill her.

      She told investigators she wanted to work out their differences.

      "Because she didn't follow through with the charges many people want to say now she's to blame," Action 4's Ryan Wolf said to the victim's advocate. "Is that the case?"

      "I don't believe so," Oralia answered. "Only a victim knows what they're going through. And it's very sad when people start to come down on the victim and say you should have done this, you should have done that."

      Help is available for victims of abuse.

      There's the Family Crisis Center in Harlingen, Friendship of Women in Brownsville and Mujeres Unidas in McAllen.

      There's also a toll free number people can call for the National Domestic Violence hotline: 1-800-799-7233.

      Officer Cardenas remains suspended with pay.

      His attorney refuses to return calls from Action 4 News for a comment on the case.

      Cardenas faces possible termination but no criminal charges, according to Police Chief Robert Dominguez.

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