Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Importance of Prevention

A writer on Law Blog discovers what those of us in this field have known all along, that sometimes women do every single thing they're "supposed" to do and they still experience further violence. What the writer gets wrong, however, is this sentence:

Sometimes, there is no way to prevent the real dangers of domestic violence.
The sentiment is spot on, but the writer is still making society's tired old mistake, that prevention is something for which a victim of violence must take responsibility.

She must leave the relationship to prevent future violence. Well, as we hope we've made very clear on this blog, immediately after leaving is one of the most dangerous times in an abusive relationship.

She must take out a protective order for her safety. Well, to a man who has been to jail and for whom threats of imprisonment are not threatening at all, a protective order is just a piece of paper.

She must leave the relationship, get a divorce, stay in a safehouse, leave the state, change her name, protect her address, etc. etc. etc.

As an attorney, the Law Blog writer does wonder if he did everything he could to ensure her safety. To him, that means he wonders if he helped her gain all of the possible legal protections available. See "she must take out a protective order" above.

He sums up with this:

Did the system fail? Could this brutal second attack have been prevented? Was there something else I could have done? I don't know. However, I have a few suggestions for those who have been the victims of domestic violence and who still maintain contact with the perpetrator because of child custody issues.

More advice for women. I hope our regular readers see where we're going with this. Not once does the writer wonder what could have been done to prevent the batterer from learning to batter.

Sometimes, there is no way to prevent the real dangers of domestic violence.
Sometimes, it is too late to prevent the real dangers of domestic violence for the woman/women on whom one batterer preys. But it is never too late to teach our sons not to batter. That's the best and only real way to prevent the real dangers of domestic violence.

Update: Shakesville posted today on a public transit sign, meant to reduce sexual harassment on trains and buses, that reads:
Sexual Harassment is a crime in the subway, too--a crowded train is no excuse for an improper touch. Don't stand for it or be ashamed, or be afraid to speak up. Report it to an MTA employee or police officer.

Note the advice. Sexual harassment is a crime . . . report it. Not sexual harassment is a crime . . . don't do it.

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