Friday, May 29, 2009

Rise in Entire Family Murder-Suicides

Today, Women's eNews featured an article about the rise in entire family murder-suicides.
The horrifying headlines about men who kill their entire families and then turn the gun on themselves appear to be intensifying. Katherine van Wormer says the harsh economy may be a factor, but more fundamental may be a distorted notion of manliness.
The research literature, as summarized in our book, shows that the patterns of murder-suicide of a man and his wife or partner are of two basic types.

One involves an elderly couple in which the man is the caretaker of a woman who suffers from dementia. Not wanting to send her to a nursing home and finding himself too frail to care for her himself, he kills them both.

More commonly, the crimes involve an abusive, extremely possessive man. When the woman threatens to leave him, he kills her and himself.

Dominance, explosive violence, jealousy and a pathological fear of rejection by his wife or partner are among the key features of male-on-female domestic homicide that we found in our research.

Common to every single case that I have studied is a precipitating crisis and the failure of the man to call out for help.
We encourage you to read the entire article.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

'Mild Mannered' Attempted Murderer

The UK Press Association describes Brian Gibbs as "mild mannered".

The judge trying the case told Mr. Gibbs that his attack did have an explanation. "Your anger and your jealousy at her infidelity and your fear of losing her no doubt caused acute stress for you and led you to committing this offence. You are normally a quiet, non-violent, hard-working family man. This is a sad case and you acted completely out of character."

Yet Mr. Gibbs was on trial for pushing his wife down a flight of stairs and stabbing her in the neck with a pair of scissors.

Let us spell it out once again: Most people, when getting divorced or learning of their spouse's infidelity, do not attempt to kill their partners or even send them to the hospital. Many get angry. Many feel hurt. But most "mild mannered" people don't react with this degree of violence. Please, media, stop making excuses for batterers and help us find a solution.

Holly Spring Man Shoots Wife, Self

Via the Cherokee Tribune:

A Holly Springs man accused of shooting his wife and then himself has died.

Alva Johnson, 61, died on Friday night at Emory Hospital in Atlanta, according to the Holly Springs Police Department.

Police said they believe Johnson shot his wife, Linda, 64, multiple times on Wednesday at their Holly Street home and then shot himself in the head.

Johnson was transported by Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services to WellStar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta. He then was flown by helicopter to Emory Hospital in Atlanta, where he remained in critical condition until his death.

Police were called to the Johnsons' home at 6 p.m. on Wednesday night to investigate a "person armed" call, and discovered the wounded couple.

Mrs. Johnson was pronounced dead at the scene by the county coroner.

Relatives have told police the couple faced "declining health issues" that may have prompted the shootings. No charges were filed against Johnson prior to his death.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

That's Not Funny

Melissa at Shakesville is amazing about breaking down some of the basic lessons about feminism and gender equality. In March she wrote a post entitled Feminism 101: On Language and the Commodification of Sex Via Humor. Below you'll find a lengthy section from the post, and we encourage you to read it in its entirely. However, note that the original post, its comments, and Shakesville as a whole does contain adult language that some readers may find offensive.

I've talked about the role of humor in perpetuating and normalizing rape and the objectification of women's body parts, and why humor is such a useful tool in the normalization of patriarchal norms and narratives:

[O]ne of the most common themes among the emails I get is gratitude for expressing frustration or contempt or anger at something of which, women have been told in explicit or implicit ways, our jovial and uncomplaining acquiesce is expected. Thank you for saying it's not funny. That something has always bothered me. It's an expression of relief that someone has said publicly what they've felt privately—and maybe never said to anyone for fear of reprisal, for fear of being told they are humorless, hypersensitive, over-reactionary, boring.

…It's a terribly effective silencing strategy, which is why the conveyance of patriarchal norms is so often closely associated with humor. Anyone who dares complain is just No Fun—hence, we find ourselves mired in a culture in which women who don't laugh at seeing parts of their body routinely used as demeaning gags, and the men who are disgusted by such objectification of people they're meant to love and respect, are the ones considered weird.

It can be really daunting to go up against all that, especially in one's everyday life, on one's own, just one woman against someone(s) equipped with such an effective institutionalized mechanism for shaming and silencing.
"Geez, can't you take a joke?" That's all it takes—the implication that the woman who objects to public expressions of misogyny, who doesn't find funny the means of her own subjugation, or doesn't find amusing being triggered by careless "jokes" about a brutal event she has experienced, is humorless. Uncool. Oversensitive. Weak. (As though standing up to bigotry is the easy way out, and laughing along is somehow strong.)
People often ask us what they can do to end domestic violence. The standard answers always donate money or volunteer, but what Melissa gets at here is equally important. You can help end violence against women by doing the hard work of saying "That's not funny" when someone makes a joke at the expense of women, or "That's not ok" when someone condones the use of violence to solve a problem or get their way. It isn't easy; none of us want to make our friends feel uncomfortable. But by taking a stand, you're communicating to those with whom you have influence that you are not ok with sexism, objectification, and all of the isms that, when added together, create a culture where violence against women is accepted. If your kids see you taking a stand, better yet, because the more kids who grow up knowing that violence against women is unacceptable, the better their world will be.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

DV Skyrockets Among Poorest Katrina Evacuees

Women living in emergency trailer parks in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina were three times more likely to become victims of domestic or sexual violence than they were prior to the storm, according to a new study published by the American Medical Association.

Dr. Lynn Lawry, the lead author of the report published Monday in the journal Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, said the level of violence found in the survey is comparable to similar studies performed in camps for displaced people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and other war-torn countries.

The study, conducted from 2006 to 2007, surveyed 420 women in Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer parks around the state. The per capita incidents of violence against women - both sexual and physical - is similar to what Lawry, who works on health and humanitarian issues for the Defense Department, found in camps in Darfur region of Sudan in 2005.

The stresses of the disaster, job losses and tight quarters, combined with an increased use of alcohol and drugs are believed to be the culprit, she said. As we have discussed previously, these conditions are known to make abusers feel out of control. In order to regain their sense of control, they seek to dominate those closest to them, often their spouses, partners, and children.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Project VoteSafe Becomes Law

From ABC:

Georgia voters who have endured an abusive past now no longer have to worry about exposing their identities when voting, according to a news release sent to NewsChannel 9:

Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel today announced enactment of Project VoteSafe, a program to ensure that individuals under protective orders or residents of family violence centers are protected from having their addresses exposed during the voting process. Governor Sonny Perdue signed the enabling legislation, House Bill 227, into law Friday.

Project VoteSafe, sponsored by Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-Rome), applies to citizens who have received a protective order issued by a court and to residents of family violence shelters. These individuals would be eligible to confidentially register to vote without their voter registration information becoming available as public information.
"I want to thank Governor Perdue for signing this important legislation and Representative Dempsey for her leadership in passing Project VoteSafe," Secretary Handel said. "Georgia citizens should not fear for their safety while trying to exercise their right to vote."

House Bill 227 received overwhelming support in the Georgia General Assembly, passing by a margin of 155 to three in the House and 50 to zero in the Senate.

Representative Dempsey said, "I'm delighted that Governor Perdue signed this common sense bill into law. It has been an honor to work with Secretary Handel to ensure that individuals in need of protective orders, such as victims of domestic abuse or stalking, have the opportunity to register and vote without the fear of being located by those wishing to do them harm."

The Project VoteSafe legislation allows the Secretary of State's Office to implement the mechanism by which an individual's information will be kept private.
Please click here for more information on HB 227 from the Georgia General Assembly website.

Friday, May 1, 2009

8 DV Murders in April

There were eight domestic violence murders in Georgia just in the month of April 2009.

Adrienne Young, age 30 - Stabbed by her ex-boyfriend (Freeman Matthews) in Smyrna

(Jairo Bustos), age 25 - Shot by police after kidnapping his fiance's (Arian Sterns) children - she had protection from him after domestic violence issues in Roswell

Minka Grogan, age 40 - Bashed in the head with a landscaping rock by her ex-boyfriend (Calvin Meyers) in Roswell

Marie E. Bruce, 47; Ben Teague, 63; Thomas Cole Tanner, 40 - All shot by Bruce's husband (George Zinkhan) in Athens

Unidentified man - Shot by police after police were called to a domestic violence incident by his girlfriend in Covington

Lt. Don Bassett, 36 - Shot by fiance - no determination yet whether this was self defense - in Dacula

There have been thirty domestic violence murders in Georgia so far this year. Please take a moment of silence to remember these men and women lost.