Tuesday, August 31, 2010

DV Shoot-Out Kills Three Men

According to the Dalton Daily Report, a Dalton man threatened to kill his estranged girlfriend and her children at a birthday party, starting a shoot-out that killed three men.
A harrowing 911 call detailing threats by an intoxicated boyfriend to “put this gun to your head and pull the trigger” caused Mindy Bullard to beg for her life and the lives of her seven children at the scene of a birthday party near Dawnville last Thursday.

“I’ll kill them too,” David Dwight Hartline, 41, of Summerville, replied to the pleas.
The Chattanooga Time Free Press reports:

The sheriff said victim Mindy Bullard’s estranged boyfriend David Dwight Hartline, of Summerville, Ga., had been drinking and was told not to come to the party. When he did arrive, an argument broke out. Investigators believe the boyfriend was the first person to fire shots, but there was an exchange of gunfire, the sheriff said. At least 25 shell casings were recovered at the scene.

When authorities arrived, Bullard’s father, Edward Henry Manz III, a Chattanooga resident, and Hartline both were dead in the home. Bullard’s ex-husband, Kenneth Simonson of Cleveland, Tenn., was alive in the home but later died at Hamilton Medical Center in Dalton, Ga.

Bullard, also shot in the legs, crawled to a neighbor’s home. Her wounds are not believed to be life threatening, the sheriff said.

Whitfield County Coroner Bobbie Dixon said all of the victims had multiple gunshot wounds, and much of the gunfire was recorded in graphic 911 calls released to the Times Free Press this afternoon.
This is another tragic example of why domestic violence is not just a matter to be handled by a couple behind closed doors. Batterers don't stay home all day with the shades drawn. They work, go to restaurants, attend family functions, worship, and interact constantly with other members of the public. Their partners do, too, and that means that the violence also goes to work, restaurants, family functions, and worship services and interacts constantly with other members of the public. The messages we give in all of these settings influence whether a batterer feels secure enough in that setting to use violence overtly or not (for example, if his friends constantly tell sexist jokes and tell him he needs to control his wife, he may feel that they would approve of his violent behavior), but if violence against women is a routine part of a man's world, he will not leave that part of himself at home. This was one situation where that violence was triggered in public, and now three people are dead.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families.

Friday, August 27, 2010

DV Murder in Warner Robbins

Via Macon.com, Warner Robbins police report that a man who killed his wife Monday had planned a murder-suicide.

Maria Garcia, 38, was found dead in the doorway of her home at 102 Murray Place by neighbors about 7:35 a.m. Monday, according to police and neighbors who found the body. She had been shot twice, according to the Houston County coroner.

Her estranged husband, Jose Garcia, 44, who was stabbed twice, was found unconscious about 7:40 a.m. in the parking lot at Northlake Apartments at 310 Northlake Dive where he lived, police said. He remained hospitalized Thursday.

Tabitha Pugh, public information officer for Warner Robins police, said Thursday that a warrant has been signed for Jose Garcia’s arrest on the charge of felony murder. The warrant is not expected to be served until he is released from The Medical Center of Central Georgia, she said.

Jose Garcia’s stab wounds were self-inflicted with a large knife, Pugh said. Police believe that Jose Garcia went to the home with plans to kill Maria Garcia and then kill himself in what was to be a murder-suicide, Pugh said.

We can't say enough that if a batterer is willing to kill himself, it makes him much more dangerous to those around him. Many women hear their partners make threats of suicide if they leave and think that they will feel responsible if he harms himself. What they don't hear is the implicit threat that a man willing to take his own life does not plan to suffer the consequences for any of the actions he takes before he dies. Those men are extremely dangerous and many domestic violence homicides are, indeed, murder-suicides. If your partner has a history of violence and is threatening suicide, there are many ways that you can help him find help without remaining in a relationship in which your life is in danger, too. Please call your local domestic violence program before it is too late.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Garcia family, especially the children.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sylvester, GA Murder Suicide

According to FOX 31 Online:

GBI agents say it appears 68-year-old William Miller shot his wife 66-year-old Sarah Miller and then took his own life.

Their bodies were discovered Saturday afternoon by their adult daughter at their home on the 700 block of Youngblood road in Sylvester.

Their bodies have been sent to Macon for autopsies.

This is the fourth murder-suicide in southwest Georgia in the last three months.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Miller family.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A DV Double-Standard for Athletes?

Are athletes let off the hook more frequently when it comes to abusing their partners? Sports Illustrated's Jeff Benedict thinks so and outlines how:
Athletes are less prone to fear consequences, especially when it comes to their off-the-field behavior. [Carolina Panthers linebacker Mark] Fields confronted his ex-girlfriend outside a child care facility at 5 o'clock on a Monday afternoon. [Mets closer Francisco] Rodriguez couldn't have picked a more public place to berate his girlfriend and strike her father than at a ballpark, never mind the fact that there were security guards on hand.

Most of us would consider this behavior pretty brazen. Yet athletes who run afoul of the law are used to getting out of jams. Look at [Indiana Pacers rookie Lance] Stephenson. While starring at Abraham Lincoln High in Coney Island, Stephenson and a teammate were arrested in October 2008 for allegedly sexually abusing a 17-year-old girl inside the school. At the time, Stephenson was being recruited by schools like North Carolina, Kansas, Memphis, USC and many others. He was on his way to becoming the all-time leading scorer in New York state history and leading his team to four consecutive New York City championships. He'd become such a big phenomenon that a courtside announcer had nicknamed him "Born Ready" and a reality web series about him was being planned under the same name.

All of that was jeopardized by the felony sexual assault case pending against him. But here's where it pays for an abuser to be an athlete. After Stephenson pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct, the University of Cincinnati offered him a scholarship. He became the Big East's Rookie of the Year in 2010 and was selected drafted by the Indiana Pacers in the second round of June's NBA Draft. It was as if the incident at his high school didn't matter.

But these matters often come back to bite teams that sign players with a rap sheet. Now Pacers GM Larry Bird has to decide what to do. If Stephenson is convicted on felony assault charges for the incident last weekend, he'll face a minimum of seven years in prison. The team just signed him to a contract that reportedly guarantees him $700,000 this year and $800,000 next year. The only thing Bird has said so far is that the organization will send a clear message to the community that cannot be ignored.

The only person who needs a clear message is Stephenson. He may have been born ready to play hoops, but the game is doing him no favors by enabling him to keep skirting responsibility for his actions. Until his case is resolved, the last place he should be is in an NBA uniform.
The full article is well worth a read, if for nothing else than the list of high-profile athletes whose abusive escapes you may or may not have heard about. There is a real reason why researchers and activists like Benedict and Jackson Katz put so much emphasis on intervening with athletes. That's a good approach, but an even better approach might be to couple that intervention with some for GMs on why domestic violence should be taken seriously. Battering athletes aren't going to stop using violence until they see actual negative consequences for doing so.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Your [Female] Body Belongs to Us

In 2004, a young Missouri woman went into a bar. Also at that bar was a film crew for the popular pornographic series Girls Gone Wild. During their time at the bar, the film crew encouraged the women present to remove clothing. Women who chose to could do so and be filmed. The young woman in question, we'll call her Jane, chose not to remove her clothing. She said, "No." Audibly. Despite that fact, the woman next to her pulled down Jane's top and exposed her breasts to the cameras.

Four years go by, during which time Jane marries and has children. Then, a friend of her husband recognizes her from a Girls Gone Wild video and tells her husband. She is, understandably, mortified. Jane never signed a release giving Girls Gone Wild permission to use her image and, in fact, was the victim of a sexual assault because she never gave the other women permission to expose her breasts. She sued.

She lost.

A jury on Thursday rejected a young woman's claim that the producers of a "Girls Gone Wild" video damaged her reputation by showing her tank top being pulled down by another person in a Laclede's Landing bar.

A St. Louis Circuit Court jury deliberated 90 minutes before ruling against the woman, 26, on the third day of the trial. Lawyers on both sides argued the key issue was consent, with her side saying she absolutely refused to give it and the defense claiming she silently approved by taking part in the party.

The woman, identified in court files as Jane Doe, was 20 when she went to the former Rum Jungle bar in May 2004 and was filmed by a "Girls Gone Wild" video photographer. Now married, the mother of two girls and living in the St. Charles area, Doe sued in 2008 after a friend of her husband's reported that she was in one of the videos.

"I am stunned that this company can get away with this," Doe said after the verdict. "Justice has not been served. I just don't understand. I gave no consent."

But Patrick O'Brien, the jury foreman, told a reporter later that an 11-member majority decided that Doe had in effect consented by being in the bar and dancing for the photographer. In a trial such as this one, agreement by nine of 12 jurors is enough for a verdict.

"Through her actions, she gave implied consent," O'Brien said. "She was really playing to the camera. She knew what she was doing."

Stephen Evans of St. Louis, her lawyer, argued Thursday that Doe never gave consent — and even could be heard in original footage saying "no" when asked to show her breasts shortly before another woman suddenly pulled Doe's top down. Evans said the company usually gets women to sign consent forms or give verbal consent with cameras rolling.

"Other girls said it was OK. Not one other one said, 'No, no,'" Evans said. "She is entitled to go out with friends and have a good time and not have her top pulled down and get that in a video."

Told of that reasoning, the tearful woman said, "I was having fun until my top was pulled off. And now this thing is out there for the world to see forever."

This is the same victim-blaming rhetoric that we hear for all sorts of violence against women. If she wears a revealing top, she's implying consent to sex, even when she says "no". If she remains with an abusive partner, she's implying consent to be hit. If she leaves her home in a skirt, she's implying consent for people to look up her skirt, even if she is just a 16-year-old in Target. If our bodies continue to be interpreted by the law as public property, it will never be safe for us to walk outside. And, if our husbands or partners view us as their property, it isn't safe for women at home, either.

Friday, August 13, 2010

We Hate The Way You Lie

On Friday morning, a WRC staff member was on CNN’s American Morning to discuss “the glamorization of domestic violence”, specifically in the context of Eminem’s new video featuring Rihanna. Because we couldn’t fit everything there is to say about the video in a time-limited interview, you get it here. If you haven’t seen the video, search “Love The Way You Lie” on Youtube. Done? Let’s get started.

Best-Case Scenario

The best-case scenario for this video is the one Eminem and Rihanna are promoting. Eminem just got out of rehab and has stated that he’s trying to make amends for the things he’s done wrong in his life. This album is called “Recovery” and the songs on it reflect that theme. Because he has a lengthy history of violence against women, he decides to write this song to give his fans a glimpse into the mind of a batterer. After all, he begins the song rapping, “I can't tell you what it really is. I can only tell you what it feels like.” He’s letting us know that this is how a batterer views an abusive relationship.

Viewed through that lens, the scenario is pretty realistic. A batterer doesn’t see himself using power and control. He thinks her temper is as bad as his. He sees her fighting back in self defense and thinks that she’s violent, too. He says he just snapped, but, when he tells her it won’t happen again, he knows he’s lying. He enjoys the heightened emotions, the “drama”, and the make-up sex (which she might enjoy or to which she might be too scared to say no). He assumes she likes it too, or else she wouldn’t be around. Still, he acknowledges that she has tried to leave him before, and, if she tries again, he’ll kill her.

We all know Eminem purposefully recruited Rihanna to sing his hook. She says that the experience was cathartic and that she was drawn to the lyrics. She plays the victim as the abuser sees her – a woman who likes it when he lies and likes it when he hurts her. We’re supposed to see Rihanna’s face and remember all of the victim blaming that we did even though we have graphic photos of her beaten almost beyond recognition. We’re supposed to be sickened by the thought that anyone could like that level of violence.

Rihanna also sings about the true #1 reason that women tell us they stay in abusive relationships - love.

Worst-Case Scenario

The worst-case scenario is that Eminem just made another song to add to his violent repertoire. How is this substantially different from the lyrics to Kim:

“Sit down b---h
If you move again I'll beat the s--t out of you
Don't make me wake this baby
She don't need to see what I'm about to do
Quit crying b---h, why do you always make me shout at you?”

“Come on we're going for a ride b---h
Sit up front
(Well I can't just leave Hailie alone, what if she wakes up?)
We'll be right back
Well I will you'll be in the trunk”

Or ’97 Bonnie and Clyde:

“Oh where's mama? She's takin a little nap in the trunk
Oh that smell (whew!) da-da musta runned over a skunk
Now I know what you're thinkin - it's kind of late to go swimmin
But you know your mama, she's one of those type of women
that do crazy things, and if she don't get her way, she'll throw a fit
Don't play with da-da's toy knife, honey, let go of it (no!)
And don't look so upset, why you actin bashful?
Don't you wanna help da-da build a sand castle? (yeah!)
And mama said she wants to show how far she can float
And don't worry about that little boo-boo on her throat”

“There goes mama, spwashin in the wa-ta
No more fightin wit dad, no more restraining order
No more step-da-da, no more new brother”

Love the Way You Lie paints a picture of what relationships look like to guys like Eminem. Not just violent relationships, all relationships. They are always jealous, violent, dysfunctional, and destructive to those involved. Both parties are equally to blame. Sometimes she starts it, sometimes he starts it, but each has a horrible temper and the rage controls you both. Sometimes you hate it, but mostly you love it. The emotions are so heightened that being together feels like a high and the passion burns like the flames of a house fire. It’s the new version of a Harlequin romance, complete with sexy young stars. This may be domestic violence, but both parties are equally to blame. The video ends with them curled up peacefully beside one another in bed.

Most Probable Scenario

When it comes right down to it, the intent of this video doesn’t matter. You can say something that hurts someone, but saying that you didn’t mean to doesn’t erase their pain. The intent of this video may or may not have anything to do with how it is interpreted.

Most people, especially young people, will take this video at face value. Most people will draw on their own life experiences and what they have seen in the media as they interpret the song and the video. If this is the only type of romantic relationship you have seen, you won’t know that relationships can look different. If every man you loved has hit you, you won’t know that there are other ways to love. We’re told by popular culture that this is what relationships looks like. Equitable partnerships and mutual respect are boring. Watching this video is titillating. It’s exciting. This is what young people will strive for.

Men’s rights groups will tell us that this video is an accurate depiction of most domestic violence. They say that women are equally violent and that the violence in most relationships is mutual. For the moment, let’s assume that is true. Let’s assume that women aren’t fighting back in self defense, or that they aren’t starting fights because they are tired of waiting for him to snap and just want to get it over with. Let’s pretend for a moment that they are equally responsible for the violence. Some women might enjoy the heightened emotions. Some women might find appeal in the “love is suffering” meme. But never in this song does Rihanna threaten to kill anyone. Even if the slapping and pushing is mutual, Eminem takes it to a whole new level when he says that, if she tries to leave again, he’ll tie her to the bed and set the house on fire. Maybe she enjoyed things until that point, maybe she was equally violent until that point, but men were the killers in 97% of domestic violence fatalities in this state in the past five years. Women are much more likely to kill a partner in self defense

Speaking of women, did anyone notice how this post differs from most of the media surrounding this song? Yeah, we’ve barely mentioned Rihanna. That’s because Rihanna is an adult woman and, no matter her life experiences, she is allowed to make her own choices. She is allowed to participate in this song if she wants. So, instead, our comments focus on the project – the song and video as a whole. By critiquing the project, of course we are critiquing the involvement of everyone who participated. But Rihanna didn’t ask to be the posterchild for domestic violence, and we don’t believe that a survivor’s life should forever be filtered through the lens of domestic violence. We think everyone involved with this song is sending a bad message to those who listen to the song and/or watch the video. But we aren’t going to hold Rihanna to a different standard than anyone else. No one should have signed up for this one.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Riverdale Woman Killed by Ex

The AJC reports that police are hunting the ex-boyfriend of a Riverdale woman who has been shot to death.

The woman, whose name has not been released, was shot multiple times, Channel 2 Action News reported. She was found about 2 a.m. at the Chateau Forest Apartments on Church Street. There were no signs of forced entry, Channel 2 reported.

Police recovered a gun from the scene, according to Channel 2.

Our thoughts are prayers are with the woman's family.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Murder-Suicide in Grady County

A man and woman are dead after an apparent murder-suicide in Grady County.

Investigators say they got to the scene on Temple Terrace Circle to find the bodies of 29-year-old Marketh Simpson and 31-year-old Lucretia Simpson.

Officers say the violence happened in front of their seven children.

“Individuals were found outside the house, just outside the house in the yard by family members because they were on the scene when it happened. It does appear that they were involved in a domestic dispute at the time but as far as releasing who did what. I want to see the autopsy results first," said GBI special agent Steve Turner.

The bodies have been sent to the crime lab in Atlanta for autopsies. Those results are expected sometime tomorrow.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Simpson family.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Calhoun Man Kills Ex, Shoots Two Teens

A Calhoun man was hospitalized in police custody Friday after allegedly shooting his ex-girlfriend to death and wounding her teenage son and nephew before being shot by police.

Gordon County Sheriff's deputies arrested Paul Buchannon late Thursday night after a four-hour manhunt, finding the suspect hiding near Hill City Baptist Church in northern Gordon County.

Buchannon was shot by law enforcement officers after he threatened them with a gun at the end of the manhunt.

He is accused of fatally shooting Christy Ann McKnight, 40.

Gordon County Sheriff Mitch Ralston said Friday afternoon that no further medical updates are available on the two teenage gunshot victims that Buchannon allegedly shot before killing McKnight.

McKnight’s son, Dustin Lee Henderson, 17, and her nephew, Cody Shawn Adams, 19, were transported to local hospitals, one with a gunshot wound in the back, and one with a shot to his leg.
According to the Dalton Daily Citizen, Buchannon had a history of domestic violence, but it was unclear if the arrest occured with McKnight as the victim or in a previous relationship.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of all three victims.