Family of stabbed Mililani woman say justice system failed to protect her
The family of Patience Sallas, the Mililani woman who was savagely attacked and stabbed by her ex-boyfriend Michael Gibbs last Thursday, tell KITV-4 law enforcement and the criminal justice system failed to protect her.
"This is what happened when the justice system gives [repeat offenders] chances," said Patience's mother Pam Sallas.
She pointed to her injured granddaughter, Alysia, 17, who was badly injured trying to protect her mother Patience. "They don't put them away for a long time. They go in, they come out, they manipulate the system."
The family says Patience filed multiple temporary restraining orders (TROs) to protect herself from the abusive relationship.
Court records show Gibbs has 86 arrests and 37 convictions, a violent pattern the family says should have alarmed authorities. They say Gibbs just finished serving 10 years in prison for domestic violence and violated probation, but nothing was done.
"Why didn't they just have him arrested and picked up? He violated it right?" Pam Sallas said. "They're supposed to be protecting my daughter but they are giving him another chance. That's not right at all."
The family says Patience suffered years of physical and mental abuse and didn't know where to turn to for help.
"She tried but you get lost in fear and shouldn't be," said Patience's daughter Irene Rivera.
When the TROs failed to keep Gibbs away, the family said Patience felt even the law couldn't help her.
"The law was failing her, so she was stuck and she was in fear, you know. She was really scared of him," said Pam Sallas, adding that Patience even worries that Gibbs will hurt her while she's in the hospital.
Experts say it's important to have a justice system that works and ensures victims feel safe to leave abusive relationships.
"When a person violates a TRO, they must be arrested, there must be consequences, they must be held accountable for the crimes that they're continuing to commit," said Nanci Kreidman, CEO of the Domestic Violence Action Center (DVAC). "If not, they get the message that they're going to just continue to do what they do without any cost. That's not okay."
Kreidman encourages women suffering from domestic abuse to reach out to resources like the DVAC to consider their options, which may include safety planning in the event of retaliation.
Also key, Kreidman says, is getting rid of a culture of judgment and victim blaming that keeps victims silent.
Sallas' family is not staying silent. They hope their experience will motivate other victims to demand the system do a better job of protecting them.
Gibbs was charged Monday with attempted murder and is being held on a million-dollar bail.
The family says Patience may not be able to walk again due to nerve damage. To help Patience and Alysia Sallas, visit gofundme.com/f/patience-and-alysia-sallas.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, call 808-534-0040 or visit domesticviolenceactioncenter.org.