domestic abuse

Breathtaking Grotesquerie

#violenceagainstwomen | #WhatTheyVotedFor

U.S. President Donald Trump pauses as he talks to members of the travel pool aboard Air Force One during a trip to Palm Beach, Florida, while flying over South Carolina, 3 February 2017. (Reuters/Carlos Barria)

“The latest excuse for assaulting women minimizes the violence so much we can contain it in just one short word: ‘it’.”

Laura McGann

Quibbling over what passes for mastery is probably not helpful. To go down the line from Vox:

• Coaston, Jane. “The White House had to protect Rob Porter to save Donald Trump”. Vox. 9 February 2018.

For the White House, the politics are simple: Protect Trump. Because Trump himself is accused of assaulting dozens of women, they’ve had to lower the bar for male behavior so that even he can meet it. Any allegation of misconduct made against anyone close to Trump, then, must be dismissed as if it were being made against Trump himself.

• Kirby, Jen. “A second White House aide resigns over domestic abuse allegations”. Vox. 9 February 2018.

Another Trump administration official is resigning amid accusations of domestic abuse, just days after White House staff secretary Rob Porter stepped down after he faced similar allegations . . . [Speechwriter David] Sorensen denied the allegations to the Post, saying that he was the victim and that he resigned because he didn’t want the allegations to be a “distraction.” The Post was working on the story when he resigned.

• McGann, Laura. “Trump just taught a master class in manipulating language to excuse abuse”. Vox. 9 February 2018.

Trump’s attempt to help Porter on Friday shows he understands the root of #MeToo’s power. When victims speak, when they take action, when they force us to see, the power of predators fades away. The best Trump could do for Porter was to take away his victims’ humanity, their active descriptions, and replace it all with just one word: ‘it’.

• North, Anna. “Trump’s long history of employing — and defending — men accused of hurting women”. Vox. 9 February 2018.

At least five administration and campaign figures (including Trump himself) have been the subject of abuse allegations. Rather than treat such allegations with gravity, Trump and his team have chosen to ignore them, to fire back at the women on Twitter, or to parrot men’s assurances of their innocence over women’s reports . . . [Staff Secretary Rob] Porter resigned amid public pressure, but Trump’s response is a good reminder of the lesson he’s learned from escaping the reckoning sweeping much of the rest of the country — #MeToo does not apply to him. And given his tolerance for men accused of abuse inside his very inner circle, it’s clear he doesn’t think it applies to his closest associates, either. Trump’s team may lose men like Porter periodically, but the message the president sent on Friday was clear: to him, violence against women really doesn’t matter.

What a day. That is, of course they did, of course he did, of course he did, and of course he does. Nor is that all.   (more…)

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An Opportunity We Cannot Afford to Pass By

The Black Dot is a call for help, your call to action.

The point of the Black Dot Campaign is pretty straightforward:

One in four women in the U.S. has experienced severe violence at the hands of an intimate partner, yet asking for help is often far too dangerous for victims to even consider. That’s what inspired a new grassroots campaign that allows survivors to open up about their experiences without even having to say a word.

Domestic violence victims are most at risk for getting killed in the moment that they decide to leave their partners, Cindy Southworth, executive vice president of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, told The Huffington Post in June. To help survivors signal to others that they need help, but are struggling to ask for it, a new initiative is encouraging victims to paint a tiny black dot on their hands.

The goal is for the black dot to serve as a subtle, yet urgent, message to agencies, relatives, friends, doctors and others that a victim is in need of services to help them escape the abuse.

Please read the rest of Eleanor Goldberg’s report on the Black Dot Campaign.

And please stop by the Black Dot Campaign Facebook page.

This is your chance to help. This is everyone’s opportunity to help. Tell your friends and neighbors. Tell your family. And when you see a Black Dot, please remember what it means.

And please …

please

… do not pass by. Do not walk away.

There is too much at stake.

(more…)

Terrible

Alright … a grim proposition: Should domestic violence victims be allowed to defend themselves?

Please don’t ask why I ask that. Because if you do, then you need only keep reading. Nicole Flatow of ThinkProgress tries to explain:

South Carolina is one of more than 20 states that has passed an expansive Stand Your Ground law authorizing individuals to use deadly force in self-defense. The law has been used to protect a man who killed an innocent bystander while pointing his gun at several teens he called “women thugs.” But prosecutors in Charleston are drawing the line at domestic violence.

South Carolina, where domestic abuse victims should not be allowed to defend themselves, according to prosecutors in Charleston.In the cases of women who claim they feared for their lives when confronted with violent intimate abusers, prosecutors say the Stand Your Ground law shouldn’t apply.

“(The Legislature’s) intent … was to provide law-abiding citizens greater protections from external threats in the form of intruders and attackers,” prosecutor Culver Kidd told the Post and Courier. “We believe that applying the statute so that its reach into our homes and personal relationships is inconsistent with (its) wording and intent.”

† † †

South Carolina is one of several states that has two self-defense provisions. One known as the Castle Doctrine authorizes occupants to use deadly force against intruders. Recently, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that this provision could not apply to fellow occupants of the home, in a case involving roommates, although that ruling was since withdrawn and the case is being re-heard this week. The Stand Your Ground law contains a separate provision that authorizes deadly force in self-defense against grave bodily harm or death in another place “where he has a right to be.” Prosecutors are arguing that neither of these laws permit one occupant of a home to use deadly force against another. But as Nicholson points out, this interpretation would yield the perverse result that both self-defense provisions explicitly exempt domestic abusers when they perpetrate violence within their own home.

Okay, really. What? What the hell are we supposed to say? Sometimes it feels like being that guy in the “dead bleepin’ alien” episode of the X-Files, wandering naked along the roadside muttering, “This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening.”

So let us offer a statistic then, that will do exactly nothing to cheer you up: Twelve days. As in, “women are dying at a rate of one every twelve days from domestic abuse in South Carolina”.

Hello?

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Flatow, Nicole. “South Carolina Prosecutors Say Stand Your Ground Doesn’t Apply To Victims Of Domestic Violence”. ThinkProgress. 14 October 2014.

That Certain Sinking Feeling

Detail of image by Alex Nabaum/The Washington Post.

As long as we’re wrecking your day, let us tack on the latest regarding the National Football League. Simone Sebastian and Ines Bebea bring the bad news:

It’s counterintuitive to the outside world: Women should leave their abusers, and their abusers should be punished. But the NFL is a unique universe with an overwhelmingly male workforce whose members are lionized in the press and in their communities; a we’re-all-in-this-together ethos; and incentives for the managers, coaches, and union reps to keep negative stories under wraps. Going to authorities, whether police or hospitals, means social exclusion and, more importantly, negative media attention that could end your husband’s career. Justice imperils their belonging and their livelihood.

National Football LeagueThe wives, whose husbands ended their playing careers in the 2000s, say they knew of no safe alternative — no liaison to players’ families, no counselor, and no procedure for reporting abuse. In fact, the league rarely communicates with wives at all, on issues serious or benign, even though a great number of them don’t work and are dependent on their husbands, they say. The NFL did not answer several requests for comment about league culture or how officials interact with players’ wives. Teri Patterson, deputy managing director and special counsel to the NFL Players Association, says her organization beefed up its communication with wives after she arrived in 2009. The NFLPA now holds meetings for players and their wives in 10 cities each year, plus up to five others at special events like the Super Bowl. (There are 32 teams in the league, meaning only one-third of them have access to the sessions each year.)

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, just one-quarter of the 1.3 million American women assaulted by an intimate partner each year report the attacks to the police. But the two wives interviewed for this article claimed the rate of reporting among NFL wives and girlfriends is much lower. They say the league has built a tight-knit culture, similar to a fraternity, with entrenched hierarchies and a fierce sense of loyalty among members. “You get brainwashed. It’s so ingrained that you protect the player, you just stay quiet. You learn your role is to be the supportive NFL wife,” says one of them, the onetime wife of a Saints player who asked to speak anonymously because her now ex-husband is still associated with the league. Otherwise, she says, “You’d cost him his job.”

Once upon a time, a childhood spent awash in football culture offered treasured memories. But we are living in a time when people are looking past the glories and wondering at the cost. And, yes, this chauvinistic, insane victimization looms over the sport today. True, that stings, but we’re also really, really late to this particular contest. One wonders how many wife-beaters have the stones to to take a swing at their best male friend for similar annoyance. And most of us know from observation the answer is not many. What we might observe from casual cultural references to domestic and intimate violence is pretty straightforward: You don’t treat people that way. Just women.

Or is this just the wrong time for sarcasm?

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Seastian, Simone and Ines Bebea. “For battered NFL wives, a message from the cops and the league: Keep quiet”. The Washington Post. 17 October 2014.

Important

Antonia Blumberg of Huffington Post explains the problem quite simply:

While many religious leaders have been vocal about abortion, same sex marriage and other social concerns, they have remained fairly quiet on one major issue: domestic violence.

While the study from LifeWay Research pertains specifically to Protestant clergy, it highlights some general issues within the domestic violence challenges facing Christian community leaders:

Protestant Clergy and Domestic ViolenceJustin Holcomb, co-author of Is It My Fault?: Hope and Healing for Those Suffering Domestic Violence, said that victims of abuse often blame themselves. Hearing sermons about stopping domestic violence reminds victims that God cares about their suffering. And it gives them hope that God can deliver them from the evil of domestic violence.

Some abusers, said Holcomb, use scriptures like Malachi 2:16—which says God hates divorce in some translations—against their victims. He believes pastors can counteract that message.

“God says He hates divorce—He also hates the abuse of women,” Holcomb said.

LifeWay Research also found half of senior pastors (52 percent) don’t have sufficient training to address cases of domestic or sexual violence. About 8 in 10 (81 percent), say they would take action to reduce domestic violence if they had more training.

Just one of those things, you know? But this is important.

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Blumberg, Antonia. “Pastors Rarely Preach About Domestic Violence Even Though It Affects Countless Americans”. The Huffington Post. 29 June 2014.

Smietana, Bob. “Pastors Seldom Preach About Domestic Violence”. LifeWay Research. 27 June 2014.