Arson suspect in court, domestic violence experts have advice fo - | WBTV Charlotte

Arson suspect in court, domestic violence experts have advice for victims

(Steve Ohnesorge | WBTV) (Steve Ohnesorge | WBTV)
(Steve Ohnesorge | WBTV) (Steve Ohnesorge | WBTV)

The man authorities in Catawba County sought for a week before he was arrested in Statesville Wednesday had his first appearance in court in Newton on Thursday. 

Gregory Carson is accused of assault on a female, kidnapping, arson and cruelty to animals. The charges stem from a domestic situation with his then-girlfriend. 

Angela Griffin says Carson beat her up on July 4, before she was able to escape. The next day, she says, he called her to say there was something waiting for her at home. There, she found her trailer gutted by fire and all her pets, including two dogs, dead. 

RELATED: Charlotte man accused of setting girlfriend's home on fire, killing pets

Griffin said she had wanted out of the relationship in the past but says Carson threatened her.

"He said if I leave him he would take everything I loved," she said.

Domestic violence experts say threats like that are all about control.

"There's a lot of fear tied up in it," said Kelley Hayward of the Women's Resource Center in Hickory. 

Fear, Hayward says, keeps many women from breaking away from abusive relationships or even calling for help. 

"They are afraid he will find out," she explained.

Making that first call, though, is a critical step she says. Experts can talk with a victim to determine the best course of action.

"We can connect you with agencies to get you on your feet," Hayward said.

One such agency in Catawba County is the Family Guidance Center. That agency has a women's shelter where people in abusive relationships can find protection. 

"We will find a safe place for you," said Executive Director Ann Peele. 

She says abusive situations rarely get better, but victims must reach out for help. 

"They do not have to live in constant fear," Peele said.

Griffin says she will not get back together with Carson. 

Carson, meanwhile, is behind bars under a bond of $30,000. A probable cause hearing was set for August 3.

As for victims of domestic violence, local experts can be reached at the Women's Resource Center in Hickory at 828-322-6333. 

The Family Guidance Center on Highway 70 can be reached 24/7 at 828-322-1400.

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