On Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the daughter of one of my coworkers died as a result of a beating she had received 9 days before at the hands of an acquaintance. We are heartbroken and trying to process this whole situation.
The media got it wrong, this was not a case of domestic abuse, they weren’t a couple, they weren’t dating. As usual, the media didn’t get all the facts before reporting and therefore, the spin on the whole story was skewed.
However, what infuriated me was the attitude of the district attorney and I’m going to post here, a letter I sent to the Reader’s Forum in the Tribune. It was over their word limit, so I doubt that they will print it. The public needs to be educated so that more victims come forward, but with this kind of attitude (like the DA has), it makes the victim feel even more ashamed. If you agree, please share this:
To the Reader’s Forum of the Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown PA
As I watched the news on Friday night, I was discouraged beyond words.
“I feel like a broken record sometimes.” Said Kelly Callihan, Cambria County district attorney. “If you are in this type of relationship, you need to get out.”
I suggest Ms. Callihan get some education in the area of domestic violence. In those two sentences, what has she done? She has shifted the blame from the abuser to the victim. It’s the victim’s fault that they are injured or have lost their lives, because they didn’t break off the relationship? Can you imagine what all the domestic violence victims and survivors listening to that statement were feeling? I can, and I’ll bet their reaction was all the same….I would leave if I could! We don’t stay because we want to because it’s fun because we like the drama, we stay because we don’t see a way out. If your intent, Ms. Calliahn, was to “talk some sense” into us, it doesn’t work that way.
Of course, victims want to get out of “this type of relationship!” But when you are planning your escape, the voice of reason in your head is saying, “I have to get out.” And the voice of your abuser is shouting, “You leave me and I’ll come after you and kill you!” or “You leave me and I’ll take the kids off of you and you’ll never see them.” Or “You leave, but the kids stay.” So, of course, you stay, and you take the abuse.
That’s just one scenario. There are thousands of reasons victims (both men and women) stay in abusive relationships. Trust me, it’s not because we want to be there.
I’m glad the spotlight is shining more on domestic violence and it’s getting more exposure. But in our rush to tell the story, let’s please remember that there are thousands of victims and survivors out there who don’t need any more shame heaped upon them than they already feel.
So, to answer the insensitive question everyone feels the need to ask…. “Why does she (or he) stay in that abusive relationship? I answer with a question, “Why doesn’t the abuser stop abusing?”
Let’s put the shame and blame where it belongs, not on the victim, but on the abuser.