Springfield Daily Citizen Reporters Jackie Rehwald and Steve Pokin. (Photo by Jym Wilson)


Nearly 2,400 times last year, an average of more than six times every day, Springfield police investigated cases of domestic assault.

Experts estimate the actual number of such incidents is probably quadruple that, or roughly 25 times a day that one of your neighbors, work colleagues, friends or family members is involved in a verbal or physical fight that could escalate quickly to violence and even death.

The number of domestic incidents far exceeds crimes that tend to alarm most residents, such as burglaries (1,369 incidents) or car thefts (1,150 incidents in 2022).

Since the beginning of the year, Springfield Daily Citizen reporters Steve Pokin and Jackie Rehwald have been assembling an in-depth look at the issues surrounding domestic violence in Springfield and Greene County.

By the time we finish publishing this four-part special report, each of them will have invested nearly six months in the project. They have received help from Visual Journalist Shannon Cay, as well as Jym Wilson, a freelance photographer whose portraits will help bring the key local characters in this drama to life. Added illustrations are provided by Andie Bottrell. 

We also appreciated the cooperation of law enforcement agents, prosecutors, advocates and other experts, and especially several victims of domestic assault who shared their stories on the record. Finally, a special note of thanks to the patient staff in the Greene County Circuit Clerk’s office, which provided the reporters with 150 probable cause statements related to domestic violence.

What Steve and Jackie found is not pretty. It will be difficult for many of you to read. For too many, it will seem all too familiar: a reminder of a past they would sooner forget except for the visible and invisible bruises they carry from their own experiences.

But please don’t look away.

Our community has too often turned a blind eye to the insidious nature of domestic abuse. Many in our community view the issue as a private matter, or one in which patriarchal views or religious convictions are weighted heavily.

In recent years, even the Community Focus Report for Springfield and Greene County has been downplaying an issue that up until 2015 was listed as a red flag. In 2017, the negative was turned into a positive, as a blue ribbon was awarded for more resources being devoted to addressing family violence. Reports in 2019 and 2021 did not highlight the issue.

The Daily Citizen is bringing you a four-part series on this persistent and insidious issue that is a black eye for our community. While domestic violence affects thousands of lives here every year, a major obstacle to addressing it is that many people still don’t believe it’s widespread or much of an issue.

About Living in Fear

Living in Fear will be presented in four parts over the next two months:

  • Part I: Black eye for Greene County, published May 8-11, looks at the depth and breadth of the problem here.
  • Part II: Obstacles to leaving, to be published in late May, will examine the dynamics and complications facing victims looking to leave abusive relationships.
  • Part III: Systemic issues, to be published in early June, puts a focus on the criminal justice system and potential shortcomings.
  • Part IV: Searching for solutions, to be published in late June, taps local, regional and national experts in search of ways to improve the system and reduce domestic violence.

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can contact Steve or Jackie through information included with each story, or you can email me at dstoeffler@sgfcitizen.org or phone 417-837-3664. Or consider writing a letter to the editor to share your views.  

Finally, if you need help due to a domestic situation, or if you suspect someone close to you is experiencing some form of sexual or domestic violence — or if you would just like to know how to help — see the accompanying story on resources for where to get help, or how to provide help.

Please take the time to read our series. Too many in our community are Living in Fear.

David Stoeffler

David Stoeffler is the chief executive officer of the Springfield Daily Citizen. He has more than 40 years experience in the news business, having been a reporter, editor and news executive in Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, Arizona and Missouri. You may email him at dstoeffler@sgfcitizen.org or call 417-837-3664. More by David Stoeffler