Monday, August 31, 2009

Mass DV Murder in Gwinnett

The AJC is reporting the deaths of four people and injuries to a four-year old in Gwinnett County:

Inside the two-story home on Clairidge Lane, police found the dead and the dying. Atania Butler, 28; her 11-year-old daughter; and Rico Zimmerman, 19, lay dead of gunshot wounds. Lakeisha Parker, 30, was taken to Gwinnett Medical Center. She later died.

The 4-year-old, also Butler’s daughter, was taken to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite for surgery. Police have released neither her name nor her condition.

Within hours, police posted an alert for 44-year-old Richard T. Ringold, saying he was armed and dangerous. Authorities believe he was Butler’s boyfriend.
Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter said investigators believe the incident started out as a domestic dispute but quickly escalated into the county’s biggest multi-victim slaying in more than two decades. Ringold apparently began an argument with Butler in the front yard, pulled a gun, took her inside and shot her, Porter said.

Phil Wiley, chief assistant district attorney, said investigators believe Butler lived in the home with her two children. Parker was her friend and just happened to be there. Investigators are unsure how Zimmerman knew the victims, but it was his girlfriend who escaped the home and called 911, he said.

“She said when he came in, he just started opening fire and started shooting at everybody,” Wiley said.
At the risk of sounding repetitive, we have to emphasize once again that domestic violence is not just a private family matter. Friends and family members of victims and even innocent bystanders are regularly caught in the cross hairs. Police consider domestic violence calls to be some of the most dangerous to which to respond because of the degree of violence of which abusers are often capable. This is why planning for your safety while in or while leaving an abusive relationship is so vitally important. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, please contact our 24-hour hotline at (404) 688-9436 or the national domestic violence hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE to make your plan.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Stalking: Still Not Funny

This blog is still getting comments almost two years later on our post about a t-shirt marketed toward teens that reads "Some call it stalking, I call it love." We're accused of taking things too seriously and not being able to take a joke. The problem is, stalking isn't funny. Or, at least, it shouldn't be. Yet people continue to minimize the damage that stalking does to victims by creating spoofs like these:

The real joke is how true to life these stalking behaviors are. But that still doesn't make it funny.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

DV Attitudes Around the World

Domestic violence is the most common form of violence against women internationally. In studying child protection around the world, UNICEF collected data from 1999-2006 regarding whether women in 67 countries (not including the US) felt that domestic violence was ever acceptable. On average, half of girls and women aged 15–49 responded that a husband or partner is justified in beating his wife under certain circumstances.

Somehow we're not surprised. Women are raised in the same cultures as men, and if men feel justified in using violence against their partners, is it really a stretch for women to also believe that men are justified in using violence? Though the US wasn't included in this survey, things don't look much different here.

You can view data by country here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Afghanistan's Marital Rape Law Revised, Sort Of

In March, we posted about a bill that Afghanistan's president pushed through parliament, which critics said would legalize marital rape. After protests and public outcry, the administration promised to rehash the law, a new version of which has been quietly passed. The change: husbands aren't allowed to rape their wives, but they are allowed to deny food and sustenance to wives who will not submit to their sexual demands. It is just us, or isn't that the same thing?

The new final draft of the legislation also grants guardianship of children exclusively to their fathers and grandfathers, and requires women to get permission from their husbands to work.

"It also effectively allows a rapist to avoid prosecution by paying 'blood money' to a girl who was injured when he raped her," the US charity Human Rights Watch said.

In early April, Barack Obama and Gordon Brown joined an international chorus of condemnation when the Guardian revealed that the earlier version of the law legalised rape within marriage, according to the UN.

Although Karzai appeared to back down, activists say the revised version of the law still contains repressive measures and contradicts the Afghan constitution and international treaties signed by the country.

Islamic law experts and human rights activists say that although the language of the original law has been changed, many of the provisions that alarmed women's rights groups remain, including this one: "Tamkeen is the readiness of the wife to submit to her husband's reasonable sexual enjoyment, and her prohibition from going out of the house, except in extreme circumstances, without her husband's permission. If any of the above provisions are not followed by the wife she is considered disobedient."

Melissa at Shakesville provides a draft letter and contact information for the State Department, asking that they take swift action to condemn the law.

Dear Secretary Clinton: I have recently become aware of the new law in Afghanistan which permits Shia men to deny their wives sustenance if they refuse submit sexually, denies mothers legal guardianship of their children, allows rapists to pay off their victims, and in other ways severely diminishes the lives of Afghan women. As I am aware of and resoundingly support your emphasis on the rights of women worldwide, I am hopeful that there will be a swift response to this appalling legislation, and I strongly encourage you to take a bold stance on behalf of the women of Afghanistan.

Best regards...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fulton County Man Murders Pregnant Partner

Via the AJC:

A Fulton County Superior Court judge on Monday denied bond to a man accused of kidnapping his estranged girlfriend Sunday night, forcing her to lead police on a chase through three counties, then shooting the woman.

Detrick Corbett, 29, is facing charges of murder and aggravated stalking, and has pending charges in Fulton and Clayton Counties, authorities said.

Corbett’s ex-girlfriend, Shekeria Lane, 20, was shot once in the head Sunday night and later died at Grady Memorial Hospital, authorities said.

Lane was four months pregnant, and had a 2-year-old child with Corbett, with whom she had recently broken up, police said.

About 10:20 p.m. Sunday, Corbett went to Lane’s home on Fieldstone Drive near Riverdale, Clayton County police spokesman Kevin Hughes said.

“He got into the house and confronted other family members trying to find his ex-girlfriend,” Hughes said. “One male was shot in the buttocks when he turned to run away from him.”

Hughes said Corbett took a set of keys to a family member’s Kia, then forced Lane to the car at gunpoint and made her drive.

Arriving officers broadcast a description of the car, and just before 10:40 p.m., the Kia was spotted by a Clayton police officer.

At one point, Hughes said, three shots were fired from the Kia toward pursuing officers, but none of the vehicles or officers was struck.

“Once the car got stuck, the suspect shot the victim,” Hughes said. Corbett was then arrested.
This was once again a situation where the victim had done everything "right". She ended the relationship and moved in with family who could protect her. However, readers of the blog know that pregnancy and the time immediately after she leaves are the two of the most dangerous times for women whose partners are violent. That is why it is vitally important to have a plan for leaving and, for many women, to have a place to stay that their partner doesn't know about. If you are experiencing abuse in your relationship and are thinking about leaving, call us at 404-688-9436 (or outside Atlanta, GA call 1-800-799 SAFE to be connected to an organization close to you).

This also reinforces the story we always try to tell. No matter what she does to stay safe, no matter how amazing our programs are, we cannot end domestic violence. It takes a society willing to hold batterers accountable for the abusive behaviors to end domestic violence, and it takes men vowing not to be abusive and not to tolerate abusive speech or actions from their family, friends, or colleagues.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Another murder in Valdosta

Another domestic violence murder in Valdosta:

A man shot and killed his wife Sunday evening, apparently following an argument at their home in south Lowndes County, according to Lowndes County Sheriff Chris Prine.

"He shot her six times, and what's worse, while their two young children were at home," Prine said. The woman died after being transported to South Georgia Medical Center.

The suspect has been taken into custody but had not been officially charged by press time Sunday evening.

Prine confirmed that the man called police after he shot his wife, threatening to kill himself, saying he was holding a gun to his head. Deputies were immediately dispatched to the home and were able to take control of the scene, secure the children's safety, and begin to render medical assistance to the woman.
Valdosta Daily Times provides a summary of the recent rash of domestic violence killings in their city.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Blog Hiatus

We'll be on a short hiatus this week, as our blogmistress is on vacation. Please take some time to digest last week's posts, and we'll pick back up next week.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Gender-Motivated Mass Shooting

From WIMN's Voices:

A health club in Collier County, PA this week was the site of yet another horrific mass shooting by yet another disaffected man armed with ammo and a deep hatred of women. The shooter specifically targeted women, reportedly firing 52 shots, killing three women and injuring nine more before committing suicide.

Today, the Associated Press’s Genaro C. Armas reports that the alleged shooter, George Sodini, maintained a website detailing his desire –and plans — to kill women. The calculated nature of the crime, and the gunman’s stated intention to target only women, is eerily similar to the Montreal Massacre of 1989, in which a man opened fire on students after screaming, “You’re women, you’re going to be engineers. You’re all a bunch of feminists. I hate feminists.”

Perhaps it takes this level of hit-us-over-the-head bluntness for media to notice that a mass murder is also a hate crime, when the victims of that crime are solely women. In contrast to many other shootings in which similar motivations have gone unreported over the past two decades, the AP (and several other news outlets picking up Armas’s story) have chosen to discuss the extremely relevant role of misogyny as the root cause of the bloody tragedy in Collier County. . .

So, finally, a gender-based hate crime is being reported (at least by the AP, at least for now) within the context of the killer’s actual anti-woman agenda. It’s an important step forward in media understanding of and coverage of this sort of crime. But if the press’s previous track record is any indicator, Sodini’s misogyny could potentially fall out of the frame of follow-up reporting.

Since such context has been woefully missing from most corporate media coverage of mass shootings over the last two decades, WIMN’s Voices would like to offer some helpful history from the WayBack machine:

From Jonesboro to Virginia Tech - sexism is fatal, but media miss the story***This includes a discussion of the sexist underpinnings of the murders at Virginia Tech in 2007, and a full reprint of “Jonesboro: Sexism Kills Girls,” May, 1998, Sojourner: The
Women’s Forum

"From Jonesboro to Virginia Tech" is an absolute must-read.

Amanda from Pandagon also outlines how gender-motivated crimes don't happen in a vacuum.

George Sodini was angry at the entire world of “desirable” women for not up and volunteering to have sex with him, and every day anonymous men around the country and world beat, rape, and even kill women because said women were also considered insufficiently compliant, often to unstated demands that women were supposed to just anticipate and fill without complaint. Today, women will be raped or beaten or maybe even killed for choosing to do differently than a man desired of them---everything from screwing up the household chores to being deemed a tease to thinking they had a right to go to this party/walk down this alley to leaving a man who wants them to stay. But most people won’t see Sodini’s crime as different by degree, but by kind, because unlike most men who commit this kind of hate crime against women, Sodini didn’t know his victims.

We’re going to write him off as crazy. But the thing is that “crazy” doesn’t mean completely detached from the world, at least most of the time. Sodini wasn’t one of those people who is so wrapped up in their delusions that they can’t hold a job and need to be kept in an institution. In fact, what’s disturbing about his diary entries is that they sound pretty much like the same ranting you get from every misogynist who thinks he’s a Nice Guy®, and who hates women for their perceived malicious unwillingness to have sex with him.

Anna at Jezebel also makes the connection to mainstream misogyny.

His conviction that all the "desirable single women" in the country are collectively rejecting him, even though he is not "too weird" seems at first like the antithesis of the bluster of pickup artists and "game" aficionados, but a glanceat repugnablog Roissy in DC reveals a connection. In a post about the shooting, Roissy writes,

When men kill women, the underlying reason is almost always an unfulfilled psychosexual need. This goes for spree shooters, rapists, and serial killers. I'm not surprised Sodini hasn't had sex in nearly 20 years. As I've written before, to men celibacy is walking death, and anything is justified in avoiding that miserable fate.

Roissy's contention that "anything is justified" to help men avoid celibacy is terrifying, but more subtly disturbing is his assumption that Sodini's rampage was directly caused by women refusing to sleep with him. Like Sodini himself, Roissy assumes that Sodini shot up a gym because women rejected him, not that women rejected him because he was the kind of guy who would one day shoot up a gym.

If your day isn't already ruined, go read the rest of that post and it will be.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Chris Brown Updates

We're a little late to the game on this one - Summer is a very busy time at WRC - but there has been a lot of recent Chris Brown news. We don't normally zero in on celebrities like this, but following the Brown case start to finish can really provide some insight into what abusive relationships looks like.

First off, after accepting a plea deal for no jail time, Brown was spotted at a party wearing a $300,000 custom-made diamond necklace reading "Oops". In light of that, his video apology rings kind of hollow. We're not the only ones who think so.

The obvious flaw in his apology is that you can't tell what he's apologizing for. He simply calls his brutal assault on Rihanna "the situation" or "what I've done". Anna at Jezebel provides a critique:

Brown says he's sorry about "those few moments," about "what I've done," about "the situation," about "what happened," and about "my mistake." Only once does he actually use the term "domestic violence," and this when he is mentioning the domestic violence that he witnessed growing up. Whether or not his apology is simply a calculated "ploy to encourage parents to let their children buy his records again," as puts it, someone in Brown's camp clearly knows that if he said, "I'm sorry that I beat Rihanna," the apology would go down a lot less smoothly.

By going the vague route, Brown allows fans to forget the visceral reality of what he did — assaulting Rihanna until her face was swollen and bruised — and instead focus on all the nice things he says about his mother, his "spiritual advisors," and his commitment to change. By saying he's sorry he didn't "handle the situation better," he casts the beating as a response to a bad "situation" — and instance of poor conflict resolution, not of flying off the handle. And by implying there was something that needed to be "handled" in some way, this statement subtly implicates Rihanna too.
It seems that Oprah didn't buy it either. As promised in his apology video, Brown wanted to immediately begin doing interviews once his sentencing hearing was over. He wanted Oprah, but Oprah turned him down, so he turned to Larry King instead. His handlers believe that King will allow Chris the opportunity to get his apology across without facing “brutal questioning”.

But what does all this mean? Will Chris Brown stop being a batterer? Will his fans accept his apology and move on? No one knows, by Jaclyn Friedman at Huffington Post summarizes the implications of the sentencing, and of batterers intervention in general, nicely.

But what really may make the difference for Brown is a factor most programs sorely lack -- accountability. While all eyes will be on Brown as he completes his sentence, that's hardly the case for most abusers. In fact, few jurisdictions in the country have systems in place to enforce their own sentences when it comes to batterer intervention programs, resulting in a national noncompletion rate of about 50%. Given that abusers who fail to complete their court-mandated programs are more than twice as likely to reoffend than those who do, that's a gap which urgently needs addressing.

Go read Jaclyn's whole article. It makes some recommendations I'm sure that our friends at Men Stopping Violence would agree with.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Another Murder in Augusta

From the August Chronicle:

“She came to her mother’s house to get away from him. She had left him,” her sister, Shelia Chapman, said. “Then for him to come here and do that to her, it’s just wrong. She tried to leave.”

Ms. Sims, 33, was found dead early today in the front yard of her Wrightsboro Road residence, shot multiple times. The body of her estranged common-law husband, Johnny Lee Lewis, 33, of Hale Street, was also found on the front yard, with a gunshot wound to the head.

Authorities are calling the shootings a murder-suicide. It is the second such incident this year and Richmond County’s 14th homicide so far.

According to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, officers were called to a double shooting in the 1400 block of Wrightsboro Road shortly after 2 a.m. and found the victims’ bodies in the front yard of the duplex.

Both were pronounced dead at the scene. Richmond County Chief Deputy Coroner Mark Bowen said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab will conduct an autopsy.

According to the sheriff’s office, Mr. Lewis took a cab to Ms. Sims residence and into an argument with her. The argument then turned physical, at which point Mr. Lewis drew a handgun and shot Ms. Sims. He then shot himself.

Mr. Lewis and Ms. Sims had been together 17 years and have six children, said investigators.

The children range in ages from 5 to 16, said Barbara Ann Gresham, Ms. Sims’ aunt. One of the children saw the shooting, she added.

“They’ve lost their mother. She was a caring, loving mother,” Ms. Gresham said. “He took it upon himself to take her from this earth and from us, way too early.”

The couple had a history of domestic violence complaints in Richmond County.

Mr. Lewis had been arrested five times since 1997 for assaults on Ms. Sims. Ms. Sims was arrested once in 2004 for stabbing Mr. Lewis in the shoulder.

Despite what was going on, Ms. Sims would never let it show, Ms. Gresham said.

“She kept you laughing. She always had a smile on her face,” she said of her niece. “She would do anything for you. She loved her family. Family was important to her.”

Ms. Sims’ family is in the process of making funeral arrangements, Ms. Gresham said.

“We are going to miss her, but we know that she is with God now,” she said. “We will never forget her or that smile she always had.”

This is another woman who did everything "right". She called the police many times, she fought back*, and, when that didn't stop the violence, eventually ended the relationship. That doesn't, however, stop staff writers or police from blaming her. "Family members of Tonya Sims thought she had gotten herself out of a long-time relationship marked by domestic violence," the article begins. "She hadn’t, and police say it cost Ms. Sims her life this morning."

*One of the more common things we hear from people who swear domestic violence could never happen to them is that if their husband/boyfriend/partner ever hit them, they'd hit back.