WILMINGTON -- Statistics show only about 10 percent of domestic violence cases are reported each year. The ones that do get reported are often the toughest to prosecute in a court of law. Many times the victims of domestic violence end up testifying for the person who abused them, making it difficult for prosecutors to put abusers behind bars. It's a domestic violence case that almost turned deadly. "He picked up a seven foot long piece of wood with a nail in sticking out of it," New Hanover County prosecutor Joy Alford said. "He hesitated for a moment then swung and hit her with the nail end and it basically sliced her forehead open in a u-shape across her hair line." Even though the victim in this case could have lost her life at the hands of her boyfriend, Brandice Ward, she defended him. "She stood up in court and essentially argued for the father of her children," Alford said. Alford handles cases like this on a daily basis. Alford says it's all too common for victims to feel sorry for their abusers and asks the court not to punish them. "I think domestic violence cases are the hardest to prosecute," Alford said. "Those and sex offender cases, because in cases like this one, you have a clear victim who often times doesn't come to court or does come to court and testifies on behalf of the defendant." Domestic violence victims' advocates say there are a number of reasons why someone who has been abused would take the side of their attacker, such as fear, having children with the abuser, and psychological issues. "They say 'Oh baby, I love you, I'm so sorry, it will never happen again,' and a lot of times the victim wants to believe that because it is someone they love," One victims' advocate said. Brandice Ward was sentenced last week to three to five years in prison, which was the maximum time allowed under the circumstances. If you are a victim of domestic violence you can seek help from local shelters such as Open Gate in Wilmington.
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