Because as a prosecutor who specialized in domestic violence crimes for close to four years, and still continues to handle domestic violence homicides although I work in a different unit, I hear the same old stories.
What did she do to provoke it?
Many violent incidents happen behind closed doors, away from the public eye. The only people who know what happened are those in the room — or their children that witness it. I have had witnesses tell me “he’s such a nice guy, I mean she must have done something to have made him do this to her”
Meanwhile, the victim is dead.
Domestic violence is a family matter, to be dealt with quietly.
I had a victim who was beaten within an inch of her life with a weightlifting bar by her husband. He then took her from the house with the intention of disposing of her permanently. It was only through a harrowing escape and the kindness of very frightened strangers that she survived to tell her tale. The defendant’s family had the nerve to tell her in open court “if he was beating you, you should have come to us. You never should have called the police. This was a family matter”.
I have never heard of a family that persuaded a husband to stop beating his wife. If you have, please let me know.
She didn’t leave so she must have enjoyed it.
I have actually heard people say this, fully believing it is true. There are a multitude of reasons why someone doesn’t leave an abusive relationship. Over the next few weeks, I will feature some of the stories, so you can see for yourself. But the reason is never “I liked being beaten“.
She hit him back so they just had that kind of relationship.
Yes, they did. It’s called an abusive relationship. It’s not something that should be played down or minimized. It is not acceptable or healthy. As friends and family members, we should be encouraging anyone who is in that type of relationship to end it, seek counseling, and find a better partner. Once we as a society start to accept hitting as a new norm, we lose our humanity.
They were a passionate couple.
Let’s not confuse “passionate” with “messy“. We look at certain celebrity relationships, with their ups and downs, as well as every “Real Housewives” franchise, waiting for the next plate to fly or the tea to spill. No couple is perfect; however, a healthy relationship is based on mutual respect. Once the line is broken with physical abuse (which can be as simple as a push or a slap) or verbal abuse (you’re stupid, you’re ugly, no one will want you), then the line has been crossed from healthy to sick.
Men Can’t Be Victims.
Wrong. This is about power and control. The abusive wife derives power from hitting and humiliating her husband; the husband stays because he loves her, and hopes that she will change. Same pathology, different gender.
So For Now…
Here is an interesting article from the Huffington Post about the states in the US where women are most likely to die at the hands of men by domestic violence. Sadly, African American women die at a rate of 2.5x that of their White counterparts; and if the abuser has access to a gun, the woman is eight times more likely to be killed. Read the details here.
I hope you will find this series informative and thought provoking. As you will see, domestic violence does not discriminate. It affects relationships rich and poor, straight and gay, of all ethnic groups.
As always, I welcome your feedback!