This is not love. It is a crime, … You can’t look the other way just because you have not experienced domestic violence with your own flesh.
One thing I’ve learned having US Marines in my life is that they are not passive. When they see a situation that requires immediate attention, they act; it’s in their nature, a part of their training that never leaves.
That response kicked in yesterday while Kat was on her way home. Coming up to the intersection at 30th and Kessler, on the West side of Indianapolis, she found a small car sitting a couple of spaces back from the traffic light, not moving. As she watched, she saw the male passenger grab the female driver by the hair, pull her across to his side of the car, and bang her head against the window. That was all she needed to see.
Kat pulled around in front of the car so it could not easily leave and rescued the woman who was being beaten, removing her from the car to a position of safety outside. As they were calling 911 for help, the male passenger moved to the driver’s seat and stole the car, swerving around Kat and speeding away, leaving the woman stranded.
IMPD was there almost immediately, two female officers well equipped to handle the situation. They took statements from both Kat and the victim. As part of standard procedure, the officers warned Kat that what she did was dangerous, that she should have called 911 rather than stopping. We’ve both heard that line before. The risks are real, but the immediate risk to the woman’s life was greater.
But then …
As the officers were sending Kat on her way, one rather wryly made the statement, “Don’t worry, it’s just drugs and prostitution.”
Kat’s anger seethed. She knew better than to confront the officer right there and came on home. Nothing she could say at that particular moment would help the situation. She knew, though, that the woman wasn’t likely to get the help she needed.
Women across the country were outraged last week when a California judge let a former Stanford swimmer get off on a rape charge with only a six-month sentence, of which he’ll only likely serve three months. The story illustrates just how deeply ingrained the rape and abuse cultures have become in our society. Despite numerous ad campaigns attempting to draw attention to the issue, and even mandatory classes on many college campuses addressing date rape and matters of consent, the justice system itself, and even some in law enforcement still holds to the demeaning and outdated concept that someone’s actions, gender, style of dress, state of sobriety, or occupation naturally leaves them open to and even deserving of domestic violence, abuse, and even workplace violence.
Too often, and for too many years, our society has tolerated the lame excuse, “She was asking for it.” I cannot imagine the mind of any intelligent and critically reasoning person ever believing such a horrendous statement. Who asks to be abused? What person asks to have their hair pulled, their body dragged across a car and their head ferociously beaten against a window? In what insane universe could those actions of violence ever be justified?
Look at the numbers
Domestic violence is one of the most serious issues facing our country, but one which very few want to discuss, and even fewer of us are willing to get involved. Take a look at these statistics:
- Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten.
- Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.
- Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.
- Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.
- Every day in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.
- Ninety-two percent of women surveyed listed reducing domestic violence and sexual assault as their top concern.
- Domestic violence victims lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the US alone—the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs.
- The costs of intimate partner violence in the US alone exceed $5.8 billion per year: $4.1 billion are for direct medical and health care services, while productivity losses account for nearly $1.8 billion.
- Men who as children witnessed their parents’ domestic violence were twice as likely to abuse their own wives than sons of nonviolent parents.
The rate of incidents is appalling and in a country that is serious about stopping the ever-increasing rate of crimes such as mass shootings we should be looking at those with a history of witnessing or being involved in domestic violence as the primary source. If we want a safer America, we first have to start with safer homes, safer relationships, and a justice system that punishes the perpetrator, not the victim.
A little respect, please
As disappointing as the officer’s statement was yesterday, such a lack of respect is not unusual. Kat listened in on the 911 conversation and found the operator dismissive and condescending, as though she didn’t feel the need to take the crime seriously. Others have reported similar 911 experiences where operators either delayed in sending help, or downplayed the severity of the situation.
Let’s get this straight right now: NO ONE DESERVES TO BE ABUSED! Prostitutes are not asking for it. Drug addicts are not asking for it. Drunks are not asking for it. Women who dress in short skirts, high heels, or low-cut dresses are not asking for it. Strippers are not asking for it. Female bartenders are not asking for it. Housewives who burn dinner are not asking for it. Children who are loud and noisy are not asking for it. Homeless people are not asking for it. Mentally or emotionally incapacitated people are not asking for it. Elderly people are not asking for it. Those who disagree with you are not asking for it. Those who challenge a presidential candidate are not asking for it.
NO ONE IS ASKING FOR IT!
The woman Kat helped yesterday was almost certainly involved with some form of controlled substance. That does not exclude her, however, from the protection and respect that every human being deserves! Even if the woman is a prostitute, she still does not deserve to be beaten. She deserves respect, she deserves the same help you would want for your own wife or daughter.
We must end this culture where we think that anyone deserves to be treated with violence of any kind. What people deserve is compassion, sympathy, and love.
One More Thing
Before I end, let me say that we know domestic violence takes many forms and that getting away from that violence is often not easy. If you live in Indiana and need help, there is someone you can call:
The members of the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence (icdavinc.org) will do their best to help you change your situation and find safety. As always, if you feel your life is in immediate danger, call 911.
What Kat did yesterday involves a high level of risk and is not the type of intervention I recommend for most people. Kat is a highly trained and experienced United States Marine. The action she took may have saved a life. We don’t question the quality of that life or judge the woman in any way. She deserves to live free of violence just as much as you or I. We hope she gets all the help she needs.
And thank you, Kat, for being brave enough to intervene. I love you.