As A Survivor, Detective Savage Tackles Child Abuse Cases

As he burst through the door, the attacker crashed into the detective, tackling her to the floor, sending them down the staircase. The detective’s head slammed into the door at the bottom of the dark staircase, which stopped her from tumbling further. This encounter signaled the beginning of the end of her career in law enforcement.

Growing up on Camp Pendleton, Detective Delcar Savage started her mornings going to drill fields and watching the men walk and train in unison. Savage lived with her father, who was a discipline instructor for the Marine Corps.

Savage said she would describe herself as very loyal; however, hard to crack. She enjoyed the art and creativity of makeup and yarn in her free time. Before joining the force, Savage worked at a makeup counter in Henri Bendels while attending John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Admiring her father and his work and being obsessed with the Forensic Files TV show helped jump-start her interest in the law.

She still remembers the cadence she heard every day when she was five years old. “Get up you sleepy head, roll your honey out of bed, motivate your sleepy head and get your ass out of bed.” Little did she know she would be repeating this exact phrase to herself, years later, in the New York City police academy.

After living with her father in the Marine Corps, Savage moved in with her grandparents in Lompoc, California. Because her grandparents were always working, her cousin would babysit her. This is where the abuse began.

She suffered from physical, emotional, and verbal abuse by someone she felt close to and loved. Yet, Savage said she can recall still idolizing her cousin and their time together despite what she had put her through.

More recently, however, when she looks back on this relationship with her abuser, she is filled with anger, confusion, and many frustrations.

Now, Savage is a Special Victims detective for the Brooklyn Child Abuse Squad. Because she lived through a similar experience as these young children, Savage feels connected to them.

“This is why I was so determined to work in child abuse,” Savage said. “It gave me the opportunity to learn more about abuse from the point of view of the abuser and learn more about myself through the eyes of the abused.”

Often, Savage finds it difficult working with other detectives who make rude remarks regarding abuse and often don’t believe the victims. Savage said she has gotten into arguments with bosses and District Attorneys, even with other detectives who make fun of the victims.

“This is why I always say it’s your job to believe every disclosure, every case,” she said. “You do the work and investigate the cases until you can prove it did or didn’t happen.”

Savage loves her job and continues to feel the responsibility of it every day. However, she said she will have to retire at the end of 2021 after obtaining heavy neck and spine injuries on the job. She had been coming in to work on her day off, as the perpetrator she had a wanted card out for was picked up and brought in by warrants. The perpetrator was the person who violently attacked her outside of her office, causing her to have a compressed neck.

She had surgery for her C4, C5, and C6 vertebrae to be fused back together. Unfortunately, she also could not squeeze her right hand caused by numbness, which is why she will never return to full-time duty.

“One more hard hit and it would cause me to be permanently paralyzed,” she said.

Investigating crimes has become very personal to Savage during her time on the squad, and abandoning the post has hit her very hard.

Although there are places for her to continue her work helping abuse victims, she said it will never feel the same as the beauty of slapping on the handcuffs and making the perpetrator walk down the ramp to bookings.

“That is an irreplaceable feeling of accomplishment,” she said.

Luckily, she still has her love and passion for yarn and knitting. Savage enjoys being creative with different patterns as it helps her process the vicarious trauma she has endured and allows her to disappear in her thoughts. Savage said some of her goals post NYPD are to travel and knit in many different parts of the world. In addition, she said she hopes to expand her lucrative knitting business and focus on self-healing in her retirement.

In Detective Savage’s fifteen-plus years on the force, she investigated over 800 cases of her own and well over 1,500 as a team leader and trainer. Additionally, she interrogated over 1,000 potential perpetrators and conducted over 1,500 forensic interviews of children. Savage said working in SVD allowed her to fulfill her purpose and heal as a sexual assault victim. Although she knows she will never put the abuse behind her, it will forever be present.

“Showing these aspects of yourself does not have to define you,” Savage said. “They are scars, sometimes you see them, sometimes you don’t.”


About the Writer:

Zoe Sharif

Zoe Sharif ’24 is a sophomore majoring in International Criminal Justice with a minor in Digital Media & Journalism.