Sunday, June 28, 2009

Double Whammy

The editorial in the Albuquerque Journal yesterday was spot on, I just hope someone was paying attention. (see article above this post)

All too often we hear about domestic violence and look to the abused as if asking, "Why didn't you stand up for yourself, where's your will to live?" Unfortunately, their will to live is buried beneath the physical and emotional scars of abuse - spousal, parental, partner abuse. Their will to live is exactly what made them NOT stand up for themselves. They knew that if they did, they might not live; they might not live one more day, or to raise their kids, or tell their story, or see their grandparents, or protect their siblings, or protect their children, or play at school or go to work (hiding bruises and cuts beneath clothing), or have the chance to stand up for themselves.

But even in a safer environment when the abuser is behind bars, it's tough for abused women and children (and abused men) to tell their story as it needs to be told, even to their nonabusive parent, or their best friend, or their siblings, let alone a judge, or a guy in a uniform, or a stranger in social worker clothing. In their damaged thought process, they honestly believe that keeping quiet is their last hope for survival, because they have been threatened with much worse than the abuse they have already endured if they tell anyone.

The reaction of the abused is confusing, if not unbelievable to most of us who have not suffered abuse from another. We don't get it. We can't understand how someone can lose their will-to-be in their fight-to-live, but they do. They become whatever they need to be, they endure whatever they need to and they don't tell a soul, all for one reason - to stay alive.

When the court system and government entities who are charged with the role of protection of citizens whose lives are endangered choose to rationalize their decisions on the trembling voice of the abused, they have failed in their role to protect the innocent and in so doing, they have become an enabler to the abuser.

We have buried common sense and protective logic beneath so many rules, regs and red tape, that something as simple as a judge's order indicating that something is "allowed" is passed through the system matter-of-factly.

It's no longer about abuse, it's no longer about protection, it's now routine. Process the form, unlock the cell door (hey bud, you got lucky!), lock the ankle bracelet (this won't really do anything, but we want you to wear it), wave goodbye (hope you get to see your kids while you are out, just don't go too far) and go back to whatever it was you were doing before the court papers arrived. Routine. Deadly. Avoidable.

I have great respect for Albuquerque's best, the APD, and I believe in the justice system. They are often as spot on as the Journal's editorial. The issue I am concerned about is the evolution of impersonal justice. Court orders or instructions that aren't thought through in relation to who they might affect. Interpretations that allow violent, threatening abusers to return to society and do more harm, instead of keeping them locked behind bars in an effort to protect the innocent and already abused. In this case, the system failed three young boys and their mother at every level. There was more concern for the rights of the abuser, than the abused. There was more focus given to allowing a dangerous man back into society then to why he should never be allowed to return. It is a tragedy that didn't need to happen. It shouldn't have been routine.

Shame on the system and shame on us.

We all need to pay better attention.

No comments:

Post a Comment