All The Devils Are Here
Last week, I attended a seminar on various kinds of violence, from murder, to domestic violence. I sat there somewhat depressed, feeling like I was back about 20 years ago, as an assistant attorney general in Utah, dealing with many aspects of what was being discussed that day, at the Missoula City Council Chambers, with representatives from the Montana Attorney General's Office, private non-profit organizations, the YMCA, Victim Assistance, and advocates in other areas of working with the victims of crime.
I believe, as staff attorney, for the Utah Prosecution Council, in the Criminal Enforcement Division, Utah Attorney General's Office, I was one of the first groups to apply for grants under the Violence Against Women Act, signed under President Clinton. A year later, I was put in charge of victim assistance and community programs, like domestic and dating violence, child abuse, gangs, elder abuse and scams, etc. While I really respect and encourage these champions of victims rights, advocates for people who are hurt and damaged through violence in our communities, I was somewhat depressed, not seeing much encouragement, with regard to things getting better or changing through all the programs, committees, monies, and grants.
Cultism of Violence--Do We Need to Change Directions?
Several weeks ago, there was good news in the area of curtailing abortions nationwide, through availability of contraception and birth control, the morning after pill, education and other reproductive rights programs--a success as I would look at it. And hopefully the trend will continue to decrease the number of abortions in this country, until we are so good at the preventative aspects of the issue, that abortions is the exception and reduced dramatically. I guess, I was expecting some sort of report in the reduction of deaths, victims, domestic violence, murders--I do think that number has been reduced, but . . .
One panelist mentioned that she was the only person in her position, as an advocate or victim rights service providers, but she soon hoped that others would either be hired or there would be more involved. I am not sure that we want to want more positions dealing with abuse, but a reduction in people, grants, and programs, due to the lowered rate in violence and victims. I can't believe with all the educations, we haven't stopped more of it. At times, I wonder if we haven't created a cult of violence, in someway, glamorizing it to some extent, making groupies of speakers, victims and stories, all good, to some extent. Are we fueling the fire? Maybe we need to change our approach, if there has not been less numbers and statistics . . .
Males Going Back to Being Protectors, Not Abusers
Some type of social pressure needs to be put on by men, to men--a statement, that real men protect women, not abuse them! My father taught my brother from the time he was a baby, that one day he would grow up to be bigger, stronger, and more powerful, than most woman, and he might as well get used to controlling his temper with his sisters, and he had six of them, 3 older and 3 younger, until my baby brother came along, some 17 years later. So my brother, could be taunted, bugged, and sometimes tortured by his sisters, but he very much grew up to be the protector for his sisters, both older and younger.
I remember walking out of the elementary school and getting a snowball to the back, in jest and fun of winter frolic, but my younger brother of two years, did see it that way, and fearlessly tore into several older boys, to protect me from their, apparent or alleged attack! Richard was bigger than most boys his age, and did grow to be 6'4" and weighed about 250 at times, so my dad's teaching influenced him young and continued throughout his life. I think it got around the school, to leave Richard Southwick's sisters alone, because he could pop out of anywhere and get even . . . Richard was shy in his younger years, afraid to say hi to me in junior high, and about had a heart attack if I tackled him or jumped on his back to give a little big sister attention to him, but I always felt good to know that he was in the shadows somewhere, protecting me, getting my back.
Two Stories, Not Advocating Violence, But Protection--Cops Can't Be Everywhere!
My aunt was abused by her husband, so of course, her son, while loving his mother grew up with the example of his abusive, alcoholic father, until his parents divorced. Jimmy was a Vietnam Vet, and married a beautiful girl, but he made the mistake of hitting his wife once. Well, she just happened to have 6 big brothers who were ranchers, who showed up at his door, and told him if he ever hit her again, they would take his body, cut it up and spread it like manure over the 2000 acre ranch the family owned--do you think he ever hit here again?
I had a friend in law school, from Columbia, that hot Latino blood. His sister married an abuser, but he only abused her once. When my friend and his father heard about it, they went over to the house of the daughter and sister, and took the brother-in-law, son-in-law, respectively, and threw him through the front glass window--guess what, he never hit her again either! That might be a bit violence, but not really when you hear of some of the horror stories of abuse, with one woman being attacked by her husband in the dark, he had a box cutter and hacked her to the tune of about 400 stitches--violence escalates, so stop it early.
Just another male being aware of the situation, the first time it happens, or even warning a son-in-law at the time he asks for your daughter's hand in marriage, might be a fortuitous time to have a come to Jesus meeting with your new in-law, before there are any signs of violence, just as a precautionary measure. It is better to have a fence at the top of the hill, than an ambulance at the bottom of the hill! A stitch in time, saves nine . . . get it before it starts. Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to stop violence, make it socially unacceptable, ugly, disgusting, totally against the morals, values and code of actions--a community should have zero tolerance for violence, of any kind!
Room Full of Cops--We All Hit Our Wives
One time, I was doing a domestic and dating violence presentation to a bunch of rural cops, and told them they had to make it clear to the members of their community, that it is never okay to hit their wives, or husbands, either--cuts both ways . . . but I was shocked when they all, without shame, said almost in unison, we all hit our wives. What? Cops are used to being on a power trip, because, people automatically have to listen to them, they have the authority to arrest and jail, offenders or those who resist their command and directions. And often that same attitude dictates how they treat their wives and children!
I had a situation come up, in a large, very rural county, in central Utah. Several new deputy sheriffs called me exasperated, and beyond frustration. They said, JoAnn, we did exactly what you told us to do, and over the week end we arrested two other deputy sheriffs who were abusing their wives, locked them up in jail, but when the sheriff heard about it, he came over and demanded we release them, and if we didn't, it was our jobs, he would fire us! I told them to vote against him in the up coming election--they said, there are only 935 people in the whole county, no county attorney, and he is related to everyone! So, we went on up the chain to get the attorney general involved.
Two of the toughest cases I had to deal with, was a former high school chum of mine called me, she was being abused, her husband was a cop in Davis County, Utah--20 years ago, but all the cops were her husband's buddies, and actually, helped him perpetuate the abuse, refusing to lock him up, and laughed at her. Again, she went up the food chain, getting me involved, we were able to call in bigger guns, cooler heads and get the situation under control.
Star Athlete, Rich Rancher--Football Hero, Cops Friend--Maybe I Ought to Abuse You
As a an assistant attorney general, over the victim assistance program, I got a call from a woman, married to the high school football hero, rich, well respected family, and cop's friend, telling me that she got her lip split, and her foot slammed in the door, and when the cops came, they sided with the husband, and joked about the injuries, and did nothing to our big strong hero . . . NOT! So I started showing up to court and evening the score, forcing the cops to actually do their job--the sheriff, was so intimidated, he would duck out of the picture at community events. A guy I dated in that community, was afraid that he was going to run into this guy in a dark alley, knowing full well of his temper, infamous for it . . . and get beat up, because he was dating me.
Eventually, we got her protected and out of the house, up to Park City, about a half hour drive, an ankle monitor on our anti-hero's leg, and a radar alarm on this guy for anywhere within 500 feet of his wife. One day, while I was at my boyfriend's house, this guy pulled into the driveway, with my face barely able to look over his supped up brand new jacked up truck. I wasn't afraid of him, but he figured everyone was--I was alone. I said, how's it going Ronnie? He threw the door of the truck open, and pulled up his pant leg, showing me the monitor, and growled at me . . . he said, maybe I ought to abuse you!
I said, go ahead, I will have your ass in prison so fast, it will make your head spin, asshole! He backed down, and slimmed out of the driveway, pissed, but put in check--there is always someone, bigger, badder, and with more authority than some local small time punk! He never bothered me or her again. I did get called into the Chief Deputy Attorney General, and warned to watch what I was doing . . . guess the sheriff, and the boys didn't like me pushing them around, and upsetting the apple cart up in them their parts! LOL.
I just saw an old movie, well not too old, but a few years, about a cops daughter, who got to the point with her husband, that he forced the situation, that either he was going to kill his wife, or she was going to kill him, a rifle involved in the situation of her trying to leave him--usually there are 8 to 9 serious beatings, before a woman will leave her husband, but that is when she is most at risk of being killed, when she either gets a protective order, or is ready to leave, as was the case in this true story. The cop dad, didn't know, and had been letting his neighbor abuse his wife for years, refusing to arrest, just calming the situation down . . . he was devastated when his daughter killed her husband--she was acquitted, due to all the abuse leading up to the fateful day.