It bothers domestic-violence survivors that victims have to fear being jailed for protecting themselves.Women's Resource Center offers a twice-monthly class that provides "anger management" for women who have been arrested for domestic violence. What we have observed in this class is that most of the women were arrested for using violence in self-defense. Other women were arrested for provoking a fight that they knew was coming because he had a history of using violence against her and she was tired of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Many of the women could benefit from anger management instruction, but most need domestic violence counseling and services.
“My husband put a .357 Magnum to my head, and he beat me with a belt,” said Karen Lawrence, an Albany resident. “But if I hit him and gave him a scratch, he would just say go ahead and call the police. They’ll put us both in jail.”
Lawrence spoke from the audience at a Liberty House-sponsored discussion on domestic violence labeled “The Face of Domestic Violence” Thursday at Darton College.
Her experience also touched on Tuesday’s gunshot killing of Christopher Donaldson by his ex-wife Marlina Hamilton, Lawrence said.
“If the man leaves when the police were there and then he comes back, everyone I know in that situation knows that the man comes back much more mad,” Lawrence said. “Any woman will tell you that.
He is mad you called the police and he is mad you made him leave.”
The effects of these arrests cannot be understated. Many women lose their jobs, some lose their housing or public benefits, and some lose their children to their batterers or to state custody. These women also learn very quickly not to call the police ever again, meaning that they also lose the protections of the legal system. These wrongful arrests allow her to keep being victimized and are more likely to keep her in the relationship than to help her escape from it. This is an important discussion that many organizations are afraid to have and we applaud Liberty House and the Albany Herald for talking about this issue.