domestic violence

Some Thoughts on a National Disgrace

Players for the Mexican and Jamaican women's teams present themselves before a nearly empty house at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., prior to the CONCACAF group stagte fimale on 21 October 2014.  Final score: Mexico 3-1 Jamaica.  The Mexican team advances to face the U.S. Women's National Team in the 2014 CWC semifinals.

You know how we always hear about various pro sports teams struggling with their salary cap? And the persistent question of how much is too much, and whether any pro athlete is really worth that many millions of dollars a season?

SeattleReignFC-logo-bwHere’s a real salary cap for you: $30,000 per season.

For the record, that’s not a minimum salary. That’s a maximum salary for the National Women’s Soccer League.

While KUOW gives an August report from Arwen Nicks and Marcie Sillman a happy title, “Seattle Taking Notice Of Reigning Women’s Team”, it’s also a bit deceptive. Seattle took greater notice of S2, the new Sounders FC third-league team intended for their reserves to get playing time.

It should be noted that aside from playing their games at Starfire, the Seattle women’s professional soccer team is entirely unrelated to Sounders FC. Rather, they are Seattle Reign FC, a name apparently held over from the former ABL squad.

While SRFC is blessed with powerful talent, it is almost a prerequisite for any kind of success; unless a player is on a national team, her salary is capped at thirty thousand dollars per season, creating a situation in which the lucky players without a national team roster spot get to play in the championship game, go home, and either pay rent the next morning or move.

As any sports fan in general can tell you, this is no way to run a premiere league. Then again, considering the history of, say, English football clubs, we’ll have to see what the NWSL becomes over the course of the next century.

Meanwhile, this miserable state of things is accentuated by a soccer match that had nothing to do with SRFC or the U.S. Women’s National Team except for the fact that the winner will meet Hope Solo, Sydney Leroux, and Megan Rapinoe (all of SRFC) and their USWNT teammates in the semifinal round.

Not that you care, but I just saw Donna-Kay Henry of Jamaica score one of the best soccer goals I've seen in ages. (John G. White Jr., 21 October 2014)Mexico topped Jamaica in a CONCACAF contest at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., earlier tonight. The final was 3-1, though Joseph White of Associated Press tweeted during the game, “Not that you care, but I just saw Donna-Kay Henry of Jamaica score one of the best soccer goals I’ve seen in ages.”

And, yeah, as goals go, it was a sweet one.

This was the end of CONCACAF group play; Mexico will meet the U.S. in the semis. And, true, the weather only made the game that much tougher, but White’s recap for USA Today should probably be praised for not making a point of the absolute embarrassment this game has caused should cause Americans.

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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.”

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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.

Very Nearly Ineffable

"In my five years on Twitter, I've been called 'nigger' so many times that it barely registers as an insult anymore," explains attorney and legal analyst Imani Gandy.  "Let's just say that my 'nigger cunt' cup runneth over."

Catherine Buni and Soraya Chemaly, via The Atlantic, offer one of those mammoth monstrosities of compelling writing about a really ugly subject.

For some, the costs are higher. In 2010, 12-year-old Amanda Todd bared her chest while chatting online with a person who’d assured her that he was a boy, but was in fact a grown man with a history of pedophilia. For the next two years, Amanda and her mother, Carol Todd, were unable to stop anonymous users from posting that image on sexually explicit pages. A Facebook page, labeled “Controversial Humor,” used Amanda’s name and image—and the names and images of other girls—without consent. In October 2012, Amanda committed suicide, posting a YouTube video that explained her harassment and her decision. In April 2014, Dutch officials announced that they had arrested a 35-year-old man suspected to have used the Internet to extort dozens of girls, including Amanda, in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The suspect now faces charges of child pornography, extortion, criminal harassment, and Internet luring.

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Hildur Lilliendahl Viggósdóttir, decided to draw attention to similar problems by creating a page called “Men who hate women,” where she reposted examples of misogyny she found elsewhere on Facebook. Her page was suspended four times—not because of its offensive content, but because she was reposting images without written permission. Meanwhile, the original postings—graphically depicting rape and glorifying the physical abuse of women—remained on Facebook. As activists had been noting for years, pages like these were allowed by Facebook to remain under the category of “humor.” Other humorous pages live at the time had names like “I kill bitches like you,” “Domestic Violence: Don’t Make Me Tell You Twice,” “I Love the Rape Van,” and “Raping Babies Because You’re Fucking Fearless.”

No, really, we have nothing for this one. Rather, there is plenty to say, but there are enough profane words here already. In small doses, it is possible to muster on the spot such energy as to not only reject such hatred, but also strike back at it ferociously. In such volume, sadly, it is hard to know where to begin, how to organize the response. Meanwhile, Buni and Chemaly’s article is necessary reading. Many of us believe we have at least some idea of how bad things are out there, but every once in a while, the only thing to mind is, “Holy shit!”

Then again, we at This Is can easily get in over our heads. Our “we” is abstract. It is reader and writer and community at large. That is, at This Is, “we” is only “you” and “me”. And there are days I might think I have at least some idea of how bad things are out there, but I am not a woman. I have no idea. My “out there” is someone else’s “right here”. And while it is easy to rage and fume about this atrocity or that, there does come a point where the magnitude of this sickness raging through humanity becomes very nearly ineffable.

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Buni, Catherine and Soraya Chemaly. “The Unsafety Net: How Social Media Turned Against Women”. The Atlantic. 9 October 2014.

Another Quote: Cold Soul Edition (Rape Frontier Mix)

Detail of the Seal of the State of Alaska

“In its short history as a state, Alaska has earned an unnerving epithet: It is the rape capital of the U.S.”

Sara Bernard

Really, I … I … I just can’t do this one, today. I’m sorry.

In its short history as a state, Alaska has earned an unnerving epithet: It is the rape capital of the U.S. At nearly 80 rapes per 100,000, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, Alaska’s rape rate is almost three times the national average; for child sexual assault, it’s nearly six times. And, according to the 2010 Alaska Victimization Survey, the most comprehensive data to date, 59 percent of Alaskan women have been victims of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, or both.

But those numbers, say researchers, just skim the surface. Since sex crimes are generally underreported, and may be particularly underreported in Alaska for cultural reasons. “Those numbers are conservative,” says Ann Rausch, a program coordinator at Alaska’s Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. “They’re still staggering.”

The causes of the violence are complex and entrenched. Government officials, law enforcement personnel, and victim advocates note the state’s surfeit of risk factors, from an abundance of male-dominated industries, like oil drilling and the military, to the state’s vast geography, with many communities that have no roads and little law enforcement. “There are so many factors that tip the scale for Alaska,” says Linda Chamberlain, executive director of the Alaska Family Violence Prevention Project. Not the least among them: the lack strong law enforcement presence, or support services of any kind, in remote towns like Tanana. “It’s easier for perpetrators to isolate their victims and not get caught. And for people not to get help.”

(Bernard)

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Bernard, Sara. “Rape Culture in the Alaskan Wilderness”. The Atlantic. 11 September 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.

A Contrast

In many ways I was not yet a grownup—still childish in love and in work, a renter and sometime student with not even a car title in my name. But with the license, and the gun, came a host of new grownup worries. First: Who do you shoot, and when?

Adam Weinstein

Among reflections on the recent shootings that have devatated communities across the country, Adam Weinstein’s column for Gawker is a must-read. There is, truly, more there than one can justly quote, from―Bang! Say da, da da da!

Back when the licenses were still a new thing and the required instructional classes weren’t a joke, my dad’s class was run through a host of scenarios: You’re broken down on a dirt road in the middle of the night. A black dude in a Cutty pulls up behind you, gets out, comes out with a tire-iron. What do you do? Half my dad’s class said to shoot the black man.

―to―

When my son was born, all of my questions suddenly had a very basic answer. I would love for him to grow up as I did, enjoying shooting but understanding that every gun is loaded and you never touch one without an adult and you don’t point it at anything you don’t intend to shoot. But more than that, I’d love to believe that he’ll have no mischievous accidents, no suicidal depressions or homicidal rages, no moments of weakness or fits of pique or questions that can be answered by the pull of a trigger. As with all the other scenarios in which I’m the good guy with the gun, I can never be sure. I carry my permit, as I always have. But now all my guns live with my father.

―and beyond. Just read it.

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Meanwhile, there is also the tale of S. 1290, the “Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act of 2013”.

Laura Bassett explains the situation for Huffington Post:

The National Rifle Association is fighting proposed federal legislation that would prohibit those convicted of stalking and of domestic violence against dating partners from buying guns, according to a letter obtained by The Huffington Post.

Sorry, NRA says no.Federal law already bars persons convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from purchasing firearms. S. 1290, introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), would add convicted stalkers to that group of offenders and would expand the current definition of those convicted of domestic violence against “intimate partners” to include those who harmed dating partners.

Aides from two different senators’ offices confirm that the NRA sent a letter to lawmakers describing Klobuchar’s legislation as “a bill to turn disputes between family members and social acquaintances into lifetime firearm prohibitions.” The nation’s largest gun lobby wrote that it “strongly opposes” the bill because the measure “manipulates emotionally compelling issues such as ‘domestic violence’ and ‘stalking’ simply to cast as wide a net as possible for federal firearm prohibitions.”

The NRA’s letter imagines a “single shoving match” between two gay men as an example of how the domestic violence legislation could be misused. “Under S. 1290, for example, two men of equal size, strength, and economic status joined by a civil union or merely engaged (or formerly engaged) in an intimate ‘social relationship,’ could be subject to this prohibition for conviction of simple ‘assault’ arising from a single shoving match,” the letter says.

The NRA also argues in the letter that “stalking” is too broad of a term to indicate any danger to women. “‘Stalking’ offenses do not necessarily include violent or even threatening behavior,” the letter claims. “Under federal law, for example, stalking includes ‘a course of conduct’ that never involves any personal contact whatsoever, occurs wholly through the mail, online media, or telephone service, is undertaken with the intent to ‘harass’ and would be reasonably expected to cause (even if it doesn’t succeed in causing) ‘substantial emotional distress’ to another person.”

The letter adds that the federal stalking law on the books is “so broadly written that some constitutional scholars even claim it could reach speech protected under the First Amendment.”

Because, well, stalkers need guns, too.

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