Speaking out is hard. Regardless of what you are standing up against. Speaking out takes courage.
Now consider speaking out against things that aren’t right or bad things that have happened to you, knowing that even if you are heard, you will be humiliated in the process to justice.
Or consider trying to speak out, but you can’t be heard, because you don’t have the right amplifier, money, power, position or even the right gender.
How about knowing you can’t speak out because people you love, your children, will be subjected to emotional abuse, and your lack of money, power or position won’t allow you to protect them.
I am so up in arms about the current news headline of Bill Cosby and the MLB pitcher, Aroldis Chapman. Unfortunately, these are just the current ones, sadly next month there will be others.
Cosby has been using his money, power and position for many years to do as he pleases. Does anyone doubt that such a good actor could pull this off too? What really upsets me here is there are people who know. My son works in the music industry for up and coming artists. Even at that level, there are body guards, managers, assistants, and others. Someone of Cosby’s position isn’t going unnoticed, but why wouldn’t those who know what has or is happening not speak out? Why have the victims had to go so long without at least a witness who will speak out against what has taken place?
Chapman, who was recently traded to the Yankees, in spite of pending charges of domestic violence (DV) is just another major sports figure in what seems to be an unending line of players, with little to no consequences for their actions.
One article I read indicated the Yankees only real risk in obtaining the 100 mph pitcher for cheap, was he might lose some play time due to any suspension he might receive. But if that did occur, they could keep him from becoming a free agent until 2017, if an unpaid suspension was greater than 45 days, actually increasing their investment…now that’s messed up. I guess it is good sports business to grab up a lead player for the cheap, regardless of his reputation, because, the slap on the wrist Chapman might receive based on the lenient trend seen so far by major league owners, won’t amount to much loss of play time.
I made A’s in government classes. I understand innocent until proven guilty. But these people are being called innocent and their victims are going unheard, without ever getting to a court or jury. Our system is isn’t bringing justice for victims because money, power, position and gender gets you the benefit of the doubt in the legal system.
Compare that to:
The sexual assault victim who is humiliated and shamed not only by the acts perpetrated against her, but if she speak out and reports it, is further humiliated and shamed by the process of pressing charges and gets to look forward to what might happen in court, if it even makes it that far. In the Cosby case, the money, power and position keeps the victim silent (an act of abuse) and isolated (also an act of abuse) so that too many years pass before they realize they’re not the only victim, but guess what, it’s too late to prosecute because the statute of limitation laws are in the perpetrators favor (another act of abuse if you ask me.)
Domestic violence victims are grilled at the scene, in the presence of their assailant knowing that there will be something even worse waiting for them once the police go away, if they say the wrong thing.
Police officers (and this isn’t a stab at police officers necessarily, but the position our system places them in) fear being on the scene of a domestic violence incident, not knowing how volatile it might be or how it will escalate. They have to make judgements on the scene, based on training they probably don’t have; medically about stated injury, psychologically about where the victim is emotionally and what the truth really is based on what the victim and the abuser tells them. I can’t even begin to give testimony to this particular issue, in 16 years of abuse and countless 911 calls to my home, I only had two incidents that actually left outward physical marks. I don’t show bruising, if police officers didn’t see what they were looking for, they generally tried to calm the situation down and get going. Yet, I have had cracked ribs, two damaged vertebrae in my neck and countless other beatings. Can you really tell from this photo whether Chapman actually abused his girlfriend? The lack of outward bruising doesn’t mean domestic violence isn’t occurring.
It has even gone as far as the Florida woman who was sentenced to three days in jail for contempt when she failed to show up to court and testify against the father of her child when domestic violence charges were issued against him. In Florida the State brings charges, not the victim, yet the judge clearly overlooks this woman’s fear and anxiety from the abuse, and her abuser. The judge berates her and sentences her to jail time. This is outrageous, what woman in any frame of mind would call 911 for help, if this could be her outcome?
Here’s my issue if I haven’t made it clear, justice isn’t just for those who possess money, power or position or the right gender. Period. We truly need changes to this broken system. And I know some progress has been made, but it still isn’t enough. Too many victims of sexual violence and domestic abuse are remaining silent or in unbearable, life threatening situations because they do not have the same access to resources that their perpetrators have.
First responders need better training or the assistance of trained professionals on the scene to make determinations. The call they are on, may be the only chance there is for getting this victim and her children safe and the abuser the help he needs.
Speaking of which, there really is a disconnect in the system as it pertains to the abuser. I really don’t believe that tougher criminal laws are the true answer, counselling, education, and mentoring, there needs to be more emphasis in helping abusers change. I can tell you it doesn’t make me feel any better to see my ex in the paper, because he abused a subsequent wife.
And the legal system needs to be more responsive to the financial disadvantage most victims of domestic violence are in and the ability of the financially able to use the courts to further abuse their victim.
At one point in time, I called three lawyers in our small town only to be told they could not help me because they had already represented my ex. He did not have an abundance of cash, but he did have bartering skills. Eventually, I had to defend myself pro se, after running up thousands of dollars on a credit card and extending the pro bono niceties of my attorney to the limits. The frivolous things he was able to drag me through the courts with was beyond unbelievable. Yet, when child support or other issues with the children arose, and I had to pursue him in court, I eventually had to drop the cases, because the emotional trauma he inflicted on the children during the time it took to work through the court system, was causing more harm to them.
There are other failures in our system, women and children having to go to shelters rather than being able to remain at home, or having to stay in a life threatening situation because there are no shelters. The arbitrary way each incident is handled. It sounds good to say that each situation is handled different, but this also allows for the money, power and position to interfere.
Please don’t look at headlines like these and think this is someone else’s issue or problem, it isn’t. Abuse, whether physical, emotional or sexual, affects us all. Find out what you can do to help. Don’t read another headline and think there isn’t anything you could do. Contact your local domestic violence organization and find out how you can help.