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They never stop. They usually stop when they kill you.
February 27, 2013 11:06 AM   Subscribe


 
All I can say is, "Oh..." and attempt to not start crying at my desk at work. :(
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:12 AM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am grateful that there are photographers in the world that have these abilities......but fucking shit, man. I don't know how one can stand in a kitchen and watch a person choking another person and not put the camera down and hit him with a brick.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:14 AM on February 27, 2013 [20 favorites]


Yeah, I'm not looking, I don't need to see those.

But the fact that she made the decision to keep taking the pictures reminds me of a part in the movie "The Bridge" where a guy is photographing someone standing on the ledge, and then realizes they are about to jump. That photographer put the camera down and went to help.

I wonder if there was a threshold that he could have crossed that would have motivated her to action.
posted by Gorgik at 11:37 AM on February 27, 2013


I've tried viewing this on three different browsers -- chrome, firefox and IE. No luck.
posted by bearwife at 11:40 AM on February 27, 2013


Horrifying. The few people I've talked to who have worked with DV victims seem resigned. Isn't it strange that we as a society can know that many abusers will not stop harassing their victims short of death... and yet we are ok just letting that be the case? Restraining orders are often ineffective, no? Is the only solution for victims of serious abusers, if they can even gin up the emotional fortitude in the first place, to run away and hide in some new location?
posted by shivohum at 11:40 AM on February 27, 2013


I'm amazed the photographer could take a steady picture while witnessing that. I'm afraid I would not have been so restrained.

Chilling images.
posted by dazed_one at 11:45 AM on February 27, 2013


and yet we are ok just letting that be the case?

I dunno, I'm not ok just letting that be the case. I'm not sure what the solution is though.

The whole photoseries was just so grim and ominous and nuts. The domestic violence and the tension with Kayden. I mean how do you have "tension" with a four year old? For that alone the mom was best rid of that guy.
posted by sweetkid at 11:46 AM on February 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sometimes you have to put the camera down.

Reminds me of this picture which will forever haunt me.
posted by Max Power at 11:49 AM on February 27, 2013


If you scroll down there's a statement from the photographer where she addresses why she kept shooting:
After I confirmed one of the housemates had called the police, I then continued to document the abuse — my instincts as a photojournalist began kicking in. If Maggie couldn’t leave, neither could I.

Eventually, the police arrived. I was fortunate that the responding officers were well educated on First Amendment laws and did not try to stop me from taking pictures. At first, Maggie did not want to cooperate with the officers who led Shane away in handcuffs, but soon after, she changed her mind and gave a statement about the incident. Shane pled guilty to a domestic violence felony and is currently in prison in Ohio.

The incident raised a number of ethical questions. I’ve been castigated by a number of anonymous internet commenters who have said that I should have somehow physically intervened between the two. Their criticism counters what actual law enforcement officers have told me — that physically intervening would have likely only made the situation worse, endangering me, and further endangering Maggie.
posted by gladly at 11:56 AM on February 27, 2013 [34 favorites]


That was harrowing but I wonder if it does too much to reinforce stereotypes. Heavily tattooed, unemployed ex-con living in a trailer park with a single mom? Those are the sort of people this happens to; not well-off married couples in gated communities.

For those commenting on the photographer continuing to shoot, it appears the owners of the house were also there and may have helped, albeit after the fact.
posted by TedW at 12:00 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


As someone who has been involved in DV, I'm glad she kept taking the pictures. Those are evidence, make it harder for the police and the DA to say nothing happened. It also makes it harder for Maggie to say it wasn't that bad, it was just a one time thing.
posted by QIbHom at 12:01 PM on February 27, 2013 [43 favorites]


I think she did the right thing by being a witness given her either perceived or real inability to intervene, but what a tight edge it must be to find you're too frightened to stop something but not frightened enough to get the hell out.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:03 PM on February 27, 2013


The third character in that photo from Max Power is death. The death of that child and the future death of the photographer. I am hoping that Maggie made it free.
posted by jadepearl at 12:03 PM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Domestic violence is really complicated. Intervening in a domestic situation is notoriously dangerous.

I can easily imagine a photographer being drawn to intervene by gut, but they are not trained to do that kind of work.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:04 PM on February 27, 2013


Max Power, the photographer who took that picture committed suicide three months later.

He won a Pulitzer for that photograph, and in a statement, he said he regretted not picking the girl up --- even though he had been instructed not to touch famine victims for fear of transmitting diseases.
posted by zizzle at 12:09 PM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Pictures 23 and 24 are just horribly, horribly hard to look at. I've got a daughter about the same age as the little girl, and I really home in on her in the pictures. First they make me really viscerally angry in a papa bear kind of way, then they make me depressed. How dare you do that to that kid, how dare you make her have those emotions and those memories.

My daughter gets extra dessert tonight, or something.
posted by gurple at 12:12 PM on February 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


That was harrowing but I wonder if it does too much to reinforce stereotypes. Heavily tattooed, unemployed ex-con living in a trailer park with a single mom? Those are the sort of people this happens to; not well-off married couples in gated communities.

But it actually did happen to this woman. I don't mean to be too hard on you, TedW, but I feel like this sort of media metacriticism implies a strange kind of moral concern, in which the relevant subject of critical thought is what people should be paying attention to rather than the significance of any actual events. I feel it may be corrosive to empathy and invites sometimes-callously abstracted debate about how our moral values should direct our gaze as a critical audience instead of discussing the situation that's actually in front of us. It's like a way of indirectly asserting the centrality of our moral primacy (rather than that of the issues at hand in the events we're talking about) by implying that it would be even more morally responsible to pay attention to something else.

Whether or not this had been documented, presumably, it would have happened anyway. The mere fact that typical classist prejudice dictates that lower socio-economic-status folks are more like to abuse their partners (which is an empirical question) doesn't strike me as an especially good reason to ignore it. I think you've got your work cut out for you if you intend to seriously suggest that domestic violence in a higher socio-economic context is more deserving of attention than this.
posted by clockzero at 12:21 PM on February 27, 2013 [33 favorites]


Also, in addition to talking about the actual incident, the photographer's statement (scroll down) explains that she originally started the project to document the challenges of building a life after prison. The family agreed to participate in the photodocumentation project, and then one night when the man became violent it suddenly went from a project about reentry to a documentation of domestic violence.

It does reinforce some stereotypes, but it's got to be very rare to get real-time documentation of physical abuse while it's happening.
posted by Kpele at 12:34 PM on February 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


What clockzero said.

What I think this photo essay captures really well is the pain involved. God, that photo of the little girl trying to hug her mother as her mother is attacked. It breaks my heart. A student of mine wrote an essay about how she saw her father hit her brother with a hammer, resulting in the brother's brain damage. It broke my heart in a similar brutal way. I think both stories serve a greater good -- only my student's story won't get out. I'm glad the story that is the subject of the FPP did.
posted by angrycat at 12:39 PM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Those pictures are vitally important. They will do some good in the world, both for that woman, and for the rest of us who see them.

Bear in mind however that domestic violence exists in every social strata.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:51 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Photo Caption: At some point, the toddler had stopped crying and began trying to soothe her weeping mother.

That's when my heart breaks.
posted by Fizz at 12:52 PM on February 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


I don't get how the photographer does this and how an idiot would commit this atrocity in front of them...sad thing is this happens all over America and the world, and some cultures institutionalize it and when things are that pervasive and fucked, well, I don't know what I think.

And what clockzero said. Lets see the Greenwich banker version.
posted by sfts2 at 12:57 PM on February 27, 2013


Cheers to Maggie for actually packing up her shit and fleeing the state very quickly to get the hell away from this guy. Seriously, it seems like I hardly ever hear of someone leaving once the first pounding happens any more.

The few people I've talked to who have worked with DV victims seem resigned. Isn't it strange that we as a society can know that many abusers will not stop harassing their victims short of death... and yet we are ok just letting that be the case? Restraining orders are often ineffective, no? Is the only solution for victims of serious abusers, if they can even gin up the emotional fortitude in the first place, to run away and hide in some new location?

Well, I am not okay with it. I think a lot of people are not okay with it. But there frequently isn't much you can do when, say, the woman is all, "But I luuuuuuuuuuv him," and she keeps going back. (*cough*RHIANNA*cough*) We can't drag her out and get her far, far away from him, and get her in the mental state to not want to go back to him and the cycle of "But I'll change, honey sweetie baby!"

And that's not even covering the cases where the woman actually leaves and then gets stalked and/or killed. That one...just, argh.

So yeah, in the end you frequently get resigned because there isn't jack shit you can do about it when the girl doesn't 100% want to leave the guy and the guy sure as hell doesn't want her to go.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:28 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


What a great photo essay. Glad restarting my computer allowed me to finally see it.

Most telling to me, besides the speed with which he moved into this relationship, the early isolation of the victim, and the insistence on dominating the victim's small boy, was his complaint to the victim, regarding her care for her children, "Why can't I be the most important one, for once?" Also very classic, at the time of the incident, was the denial and minimization (I was trying to stop her from driving drunk) and victim blaming (you abandoned me, you're sleeping with someone else.)

Poor or rich, tattooed or spiffy looking, this is how DV works. It's all about control -- which is why some don't stop until the ultimate control, death. And the dynamic is always denial, minimization, and victim blaming.

It's great that this story had a happy ending, primarily because this victim had outside resources.
posted by bearwife at 1:30 PM on February 27, 2013 [23 favorites]


I am not excusing him, but the lack of instutional support, the near hoomelessness and the grinding poverty doesnty help
posted by PinkMoose at 1:34 PM on February 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm so tired of these shitty lightbox slideshows that don't work properly and/or take forever to load. Here's a simplified markdown version of the gallery with no JS nonsense, just static HTML.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:37 PM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Jenfullmoon, I agree with you. I used to be a legal secretary at a Legal Aid law firm and we helped battered women, usually from the local women's shelter, get divorced. So many times, after or right before divorces became final, the women would go back.

They'd gotten away, the guy didn't know where they were, and often when were doing the divorce proceedings again, they'd say how much they missed him, loved him, or didn't want their kids not to have a father.
posted by shoesietart at 1:38 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


When you have more money, what changes is the props and the language. You get better lighting, furniture and accommodations. You get better grammar and clothes and haircuts and perhaps a more sophisticated explanation when the gaslighting, minimization, denial and so on kicks in. But the rest of it? That part's the same. Abuse is all the same. And that part where I thought only women who had no education, no childcare, no money considered going back? That part's the same too. Thank goodness I had the support network to help me find the strength to overcome those very strong instincts that made me want to go back. Abuse is all the same and it can all leave you or your soul or your children's souls dead.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 1:38 PM on February 27, 2013 [23 favorites]


Poverty and lack of institutional support don't help, no.

But not all abusers are in that situation. I have cousins who were raised by a man trained in a well-paying profession, with enough work that he needed to hire extra help, and was never touched by slumps in the economy.

That little girl getting in between those two to comfort her mother, was my cousin. For 16 years. Until he could get away.

Back then, the police weren't as knowledgeable about domestic violence. So when my uncle lied his face off, and, unfortunately, our grandmother (his mother) supported his lies with more lies about how we kids were liars (sigh), the police essentially shrugged their shoulders and left. Me, I was the one running to the neighbors' house to ask to use their phone to call the police. They let me do that much.

My cousin has no memory of his childhood. He genuinely doesn't remember what he suffered (he was beaten by his father, who also "had trouble relating" to him, cue lies about what a "difficult child" my cousin was – he was not, he's still one of the sweetest, gentlest people I know, but he has a hard time believing it since the rest of the family prefers to keep the lie that makes him the difficult one and everyone else can keep pretending they're innocent and blameless).

I've tried telling my cousin what happened. He doesn't remember. The family tells him I'm a liar. He no longer speaks to me.

There's more than one kind of death involved in domestic abuse.
posted by fraula at 1:45 PM on February 27, 2013 [12 favorites]


Don't cry mommy, I love you.

I can't even begin to tell you how much this fucks you up. It's so small, so insidiously innocent, that it took me years to realize it.
posted by Vysharra at 1:57 PM on February 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


The photographer mentioned that she's worked with Donna Ferrato.

When I was in college, back in the '90s, I was on a lecture committee that brought Donna Ferrato in to speak and to show some of her work. I still remember the faces on the projection screen -- many of them taken while talking to women in shelters, but the heart of the program was a series of photos just like the one linked here, following a couple around their house and then taking pictures of the fighting and the aftermath. The couple in that series was quite wealthy, living in a Florida estate, and there was no children. Other than that there's little difference between the two.

After Ms. Ferrato's lecture, she sat and spoke with some of us about DV, and we asked her about a friend of ours who'd gotten into a situation that we were concerned about. It was kind of her, to stay and talk instead of going to wind down after an emotionally exhausting evening. I've never forgotten that.
posted by rewil at 2:07 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


How dare you do that to that kid, how dare you make her have those emotions and those memories.

I did some transcribing work for a child therapist who had children from abusive families write out stories describing what they had seen and how they felt about it. Sometimes they drew pictures to go with them.

Fuckin' A.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:09 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Restraining orders are often ineffective, no?

Not only ineffective, but often a common thread for those that have been murdered. I truly believe that if every person I have come across (in all social spheres) had someone serendipitously document the timeline of power and control in his/her abusive relationship, more would get out and stay out the first time. And more abusers would be held accountable for their actions.
posted by psylosyren at 2:27 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


One month into their courtship, Shane had Maggie's name tattooed on his neck in large black letters.

This is not a person who is well.

I mean, yeah, abusive jackass and all that. But this is severe mental illness territory.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:32 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think it's more possessive jackass with poor impulse control territory. Which is one of the larger territories.

Also noticed he's a singer in a Christian rock band.
posted by fshgrl at 2:42 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's a weird thing because so long as we support abusers being free in the world it sends a weird message to the partners trying to get away... like "we... society... plan to forgive this guy and give him chances to be free in the world even though he might hurt people, but YOU are a bad enabler if you do the same thing."

I personally would like to see three things:

1. Kinder and more rehabilitative justice system
2. Longer sentencing for violent crimes even if first offenses
3. Greater public education about how "reporting your partner is an act of love because they will get the help they need" and services that match that goal.

Yes sometimes "the help they need" is to not be living as a free person who goes around harming people.

I'm open to other suggestions, I have no idea what will fix this but I am absolutely certain there is more we can do to both not create abusers and to stop them once they start and I want us to do it. I also think that while holding bystanders and victims accountable for reporting is part of it, I think we need to NOT sit around pitying abusers as troubled mentally ill people while blaming everyone around them for being scared and not knowing what to do, or being shocked and in disbelief about the reality of the danger. Being scared of someone and going into shock/survival mode is not the same as AGREEING with an abuser their actions are ok, forgiving and giving second chances is NOT the same as agreeing with an abuser their behavior is ok.

And ultimately even the legal system usually forgives and gives second chances. And friends and peer groups are often all to willing to see "domestic disputes" as personal matters and continue supporting abusers while shunning abuse victims for being enablers or having "issues" in the after math of the abuse. Only everyone likes to turn to the immediate family as the yuckiest enablers despite they are often coping with PTSD and trauma and not thinking clearly in the manner a bystander might have the capacity to do while processing very deep seating issues related to redemption, forgiveness, compassion, loyalty, and unconditional love. Values that many people have hard wired into them and make cutting abusers off ina complete and final way "You are beyond redemption" very hard to do.
posted by xarnop at 3:01 PM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


And then you have horrible people (who are lawmakers) saying that there are some people who ‘like being in abusive relationships’. These are the kinds of people who just make it harder for those in these relationships to get away.

(and yes, christ, what an asshole.)
posted by mephron at 3:21 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's the poor kid's face. And that photographer had a choice, and the choice she made is one that will scar that kid her entire life.

I can't explain it articulately, but I wish to God the photographer had put down her camera, stepped in and helped that woman and her child.

Fuck her art; fuck realism. A woman was being beaten.

Instead of stepping in, she picked up her camera and recorded it. (Why not help the woman in the moment and then photograph actors?)

I find it completely horrifying.
posted by kinetic at 3:33 PM on February 27, 2013


I wish to God the photographer had put down her camera, stepped in and helped that woman and her child.

And probably end up beaten herself? Did she have some sort of police/military training that wasn't mentioned? The guy looked pretty strong to me, I'm not sure she could do much. Really there's no way to know, but I think there's at least a good possibility she would have ended up beaten too, with no documentation of the crime. She specifically mentions that she confirmed the police were on the way, so something was done -- just not a physical intervention with a violent, abusive person.
posted by wildcrdj at 3:53 PM on February 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


Fuck her art; fuck realism. A woman was being beaten.

I totally understand this visceral response, but just to reiterate what was already quoted above, here is the statement from the photographer (note the highlighted text in particular):
After I confirmed one of the housemates had called the police, I then continued to document the abuse — my instincts as a photojournalist began kicking in. If Maggie couldn’t leave, neither could I.

Eventually, the police arrived. I was fortunate that the responding officers were well educated on First Amendment laws and did not try to stop me from taking pictures. At first, Maggie did not want to cooperate with the officers who led Shane away in handcuffs, but soon after, she changed her mind and gave a statement about the incident. Shane pled guilty to a domestic violence felony and is currently in prison in Ohio.

The incident raised a number of ethical questions. I’ve been castigated by a number of anonymous internet commenters who have said that I should have somehow physically intervened between the two. Their criticism counters what actual law enforcement officers have told me — that physically intervening would have likely only made the situation worse, endangering me, and further endangering Maggie.
We all like to think that we could be heroes in any given situation. Reality is often quite different.
posted by scody at 3:53 PM on February 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


Well, I am not okay with it. I think a lot of people are not okay with it. But there frequently isn't much you can do when, say, the woman is all, "But I luuuuuuuuuuv him," and she keeps going back. (*cough*RHIANNA*cough*)
Urgh.

Saying stuff like this is actually really harmful. Please don't. Victims of domestic violence tend to be suffused with shame and hopelessness. Their abusers are already telling them it's All Their Fault, you don't need to help convince them that he's right.

The average victim tries to leave her abuser 7 to 10 times before she's successful. That is the average. They have reasons, too, and you saw them in this article. Did the woman get her stuff back? Who knows? What if she hadn't reconnected with an ex husband (why did she divorce him? What happens if he starts to hit her in anchorage?)? Would she be homeless now? Domestic violence is the direct cause of a high percentage of homelessness amongst women.

And maybe she does love him and maybe it is hard to just robotically turn that love off, especially in the post-violence reconciliation phase.

This is a really, really difficult problem and the chorus of "why didn't she just leave?" ignores the numerous reasons that women have for staying.

Why not ask "why is the abuser abusing? Why would he do that?"
posted by kavasa at 4:08 PM on February 27, 2013 [37 favorites]


Also kinetic you are 100% wrong. The photographer did the right thing by not trying to step in. Did you see the picture of the guy screaming? He was ripped. I believe this is the photographer. What was she going to do, other than get hurt too? Or maybe she "successfully" intervened with a brick or something and the cops get there and hey - her camera was off - so now they get to try to figure out who to arrest. Maybe the results of the investigation are that she gets charged.

Honestly, guys, you know who to blame here? The abuser. Done. He did it. Blame him. Start blaming other people and you're letting him off the hook.
posted by kavasa at 4:15 PM on February 27, 2013 [28 favorites]


I am NOT letting him off the hook.

And okay; yes, let's say it would have been a very bad idea for her to step in.

I do not buy that at that point, her only option was to pick up the camera. How about helping the kids?

She couldn't at the very least remove the kids so they didn't have to see it?
posted by kinetic at 4:20 PM on February 27, 2013


As terrible and difficult as the situation must have been, I'd like to believe the pictures will help hundreds or even thousands of kids.
posted by MOWOG at 4:24 PM on February 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


1) That boat had already sailed, and nothing she could do was going to put it back in the harbor.
2) Are you somehow under the impression that the pictures she took have no evidentiary value? The prosecutor will have no problem whatsoever nailing this guy to the wall. This is - for obvious reasons - extremely rare in DV cases.
3) Are you a child psychologist? Personally I have no idea if it's actually better for the kid to be forcibly removed from the room by a stranger than to stay close to her mom.
4) One of the primary causes of arguments was that the kids were always the 1st priority for mom. That's awesome, and will go a long way towards helping them live healthy emotional lives.

Finally, your willingness to jump in and pass judgement on another human dealing with a situation you were not present for is really kind of ugly.
posted by kavasa at 4:30 PM on February 27, 2013 [12 favorites]


Jesus. This thing needs a trigger warning. I have not experienced violence from a partner personally but my sister has. It took a pretty good beating while she was 6 months pregnant and holding her 2 year old (and in front of his parents, no less) for her to finally walk away. She had left him at least 5 times before she finally escaped for good. It was gut wrenching, frightening, and the most awful thing I've ever experienced. Had she not left there is no doubt whatsoever that he would have killed her.

On top of that, I work at a DV shelter where we help and house abused women and their children. This threw some crazy emotions at me.

"Shane said his main source of frustration stemmed from the fact that Maggie paid more attention to the children than she did to him."

I can't even with this. The photo that shows Shane's tattoo of the word "trash" down his side pretty much sums it up.


kinetic: I don't want to pile on but truly, physical intervention in that situation is the worst idea. We are taught this in every single position at our DV shelter and as someone who is intimate with law enforcement's view of this, the photographer did exactly as she should have. A violent abuser in enough of a rage to beat the woman he claims to love in front of a photographer and children will not be stopped by someone with no legal authority simply stepping in. It would be great if it worked that way but it just doesn't. As an outsider, you try not to engage an abuser while they're actively abusing.

Truth be told, these pictures will do far more for the woman involved and domestic violence as an issue then the photographer stepping in ever could.
posted by youandiandaflame at 4:41 PM on February 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


And that photographer had a choice, and the choice she made is one that will scar that kid her entire life.

Fuck her art; fuck realism. A woman was being beaten.


This happens in countless households everyday, in situations where there is no photographer to intervene or document the assault, there is no concrete evidence of what happened, no objective record of truth, where the police officers have "better things to do" and are dismissive of the woman who is "hysterical" next to a calm, stone-faced man telling a different story and denying and minimizing the reality of the assault, and where "well-meaning" friends, family, and even law-enforcement tell the woman to let it go because there's no real proof of what happened and the he-said/she-said stuff won't go her way in court.

Mom and kid are now physically safe and far away from that situation, perhaps thanks to the photographer's role. Trying to physically intervene in an assault when you're a full grown man often goes badly, resulting in escalation and worse injuries for the victim when the intervener isn't effective. As a woman, it's much better that she stayed out of it physically. But she did intervene in a different way - she showed, in cold, hard light, the truth of domestic violence and physical abuse. This may have been absolutely instrumental in how the police arriving on the scene interpreted the incident. The pictures may have been key to Maggie realizing that she should pursue charges and see the man she loved as dangerous. Maggie might see the red flags of abuse much more quickly the next time around, and spare her daughter from more of this horror, rather than falling into a cycle of abuse as she may have if she hadn't pressed charges and let Shane back into their lives. The pictures might help many other women see their abusive relationships for what they really are.

Speaking as someone who witnessed milder forms of domestic violence and abuse as a child, I think the little girl will be fine. Maggie was beaten, yes, but she stood up and removed the source danger from their lives, and made really tough choices that were ultimately for the good of everyone. It's not a gentle way for the child to learn that lesson, but it's still a beneficial lesson. Most children in abusive households don't get that benefit, because the abuse never stops. That's where the real damage is done, when you have no faith in your parent to stand up against the other, because it's happened a hundred times and it's always the same denial and minimizing, and there's no hope for anything different. That's when it really becomes part of you, because it's always there in the background of your life.
posted by keep it under cover at 4:44 PM on February 27, 2013 [15 favorites]


Agreed, without that photographic evidence, leaving the abuser might have still meant he had custody of the child ALONE for entire weekends or months over holidays and summer.
posted by xarnop at 4:46 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maggie was beaten, yes, but she stood up and removed the source danger from their lives, and made really tough choices that were ultimately for the good of everyone.

I wish I could favorite this a thousand times. First, it is true. The victim is a heroine here. And it is no small thing to get your kids and self out of an abusive situation -- or, for that matter, to survive an abusive situation.

Second, every study I have seen indicates that for kids, one of the most significant protective factors against being damaged by witnessing DV is just this -- a loving mom who does what she can to keep her kids safe. This does NOT mean that moms who don't leave aren't a significant protective factor -- often moms stay because that is safer for their children, and that too can be protective for children exposed to the abuse.

And I agree as well that the photographer's clear record of what happened here is probably an important part of, in addition to her other resources, gave Maggie the ability to get out. Victims often have a very hard time -- who among us does not -- remembering accurately just how bad and terrifying the abuse was. People tend to minimize in their own minds a traumatic experience, because that's one way to get it handled -- to deny it and minimize it ourselves.
posted by bearwife at 4:57 PM on February 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Agreed, without that photographic evidence, leaving the abuser might have still meant he had custody of the child ALONE for entire weekends or months over holidays and summer.

They weren't his children. They were Maggie's and her estranged husband's kids.
posted by nuala at 5:05 PM on February 27, 2013


Ah thanks for the correction.
posted by xarnop at 5:12 PM on February 27, 2013


We hear about trauma and how abused women have trauma and it affects them. Even though I was active in the women's movement, I didn't understand what that meant until it happened to me.

Because of the trauma, I dissociate. I can't hold two things at once, because it was so traumatic to try to believe both of them at once. I could not believe that my loving partner would be so abusive. And I could not believe that the abusive man was my loving partner. My mind could not reconcile the two. And so my mind splits off the two realities. Both are true. I've done a huge amount of work in therapy to be able to see that. That's what makes that cycle of abuse so difficult. Your brain can't reconcile that this loving guy who is such a great husband, who will drop anything to help you and the kids, who you trusted so much that you married him....is the same guy who becomes emotionally and physically violent, while telling you that you're crazy, twisting it, making it up, making it sound bad and so on. Hearing that over and over - and it rarely starts out with the extremes - it's like being in a pot of water while someone slowly turns up the heat while you start to sweat and note that it's feeling really hot, but they start telling you you're crazy, nothing has changed, it's all in your head, and so on. And because your brain can't reconcile it you end up with trauma, even from the emotional and psychological part of it. Our brains are not set up to have us see the people we depend on as abusers, I'm sure. It's instinctual, a survival instinct to work to protect your family unit. It is too traumatic to process both truths, so your brain splits it off. The denial is something you can't even understand till you're really in it. That maybe even you can accept that your partner beat you or raped you or scared you and intimidated you, but then your brain immediately starts telling you that you're wrong, you're overreacting, you did something to cause it, you're bad, etc. It's not like you walk around going, "Oh, hey, that never happened" and pretend all the time. It's that your brain doesn't even process it the way you would expect, because your circuits overload and go through some other path. You can't hold the two truths at once when you are traumatized.

At least, that's my experience.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 5:46 PM on February 27, 2013 [13 favorites]


"It took a pretty good beating while she was 6 months pregnant and holding her 2 year old (and in front of his parents, no less) for her to finally walk away."

Just ... does not compute.
posted by kat518 at 6:02 PM on February 27, 2013


That is an incredibly valuable bit of photojournalism, the photographer was right in her choices. God, poor little kids.
posted by glasseyes at 6:20 PM on February 27, 2013


The photo of him screaming, barechested, in the living room, makes him look so much like a dangerously overgrown toddler. That combined with his weird rivalry with the little boy, and the complaints that her two children under the age of 4 with only one parent present were coming first instead of him.....I'm so glad she got out when she did--the presence of a documentary photographer may well have spared her months and years of denial, especially given her financial precariousness and isolation with two tiny children (though I share anxiety about what awaits back in Alaska, and how much of a free choice that really was under such duress).
posted by availablelight at 6:21 PM on February 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


You know the guy, the abuser - he probably has had a horrible life. He probably has had awful things done to him, and very little care taken of him when he was a young child. It is very very sad - the rivalry with the little boy - gosh, how scary for that particular kid. The bravery of the little girl trying to protect her mother...very painful. I wish there were solutions for all of them, including the tattooed fellow. Sterling work from the photographer.
posted by glasseyes at 6:37 PM on February 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


Sara, the photographer, is not only a colleague of mine, but one of my best friends. I took the picture of her that @kavasa linked. I'm heartened to see how many folks on MF "get it." This story is incredibly important, especially as its wide publication coincides with the Violence Against Women Act debate. This is the kind of work that all of us as photojournalists dream of shooting- the kind that has the potential to alter policy and improve lives. Sara is incredibly smart as well as sensitive and empathetic. She has a gift for telling the stories of people who are otherwise unable to tell them. I understand that these pictures have such raw power that they evoke a visceral reaction and anger in many people, but any anger for Sara is misdirected. Her focus now is very much on helping Maggie and women like her. I, for one, am doing what I can to help her help them.
posted by TheGoldenOne at 6:56 PM on February 27, 2013 [20 favorites]


He insisted he wasn't a bad person and that Maggie had been trying to leave the house and drive drunk with the children in the car.

This struck me as incredibly chilling, and I think gives the lie to the notion that someone is just "snapping" in a situation like this. It's like he had it planned out, with something gaslightly to get his ass off the hook if the cops got involved.
posted by alphanerd at 7:17 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I doubt he had it planned out - what he'd say if the cops did come - but I do think that it highlights the fact that abusers are making a choice when they abuse. He knows what he did was wrong, and he's lying about it because it's really, really shameful and horrible. Abusers will do go to great lengths to avoid the cold, hard facts of their abuse. They don't want to admit that they are making a choice to do this to someone that they love.

I think it's confusing for the abuser to understand what is going on. Abuse is really, ultimately, a very confusing venture for everyone: someone says they love you, but they also batter you emotionally and/or physically. That is so hard for the human mind to parse, no matter who you are. The abuser really does love his victim, and the survivor (if she gets out) loves her abuser. But the love is... dysfunctional at best, maybe it's tainted, or even toxic, at worst. The abuser loves his victim to the best of his (or her) ability, and it's just stunted. It's child-like, I think: the comparison of Shane to an overgrown toddler is very accurate. He loves Maggie, but why can't Maggie just be exactly the way he wants her to be? He doesn't understand. And that, I think, is very child-like, and it's very sad.

So many people say "Well, I would just leave if that happened to me," but when you're in it... you don't leave. Even when you say things to yourself and to others like, "He doesn't hit me; when he does, I'll leave" - as if physical abuse is more real than emotional or psychological or verbal abuse - and you know what usually happens in this situations? He hits her, and she stays.

As a survivor of domestic violence (it hardly ever got physical with me, but there were a few incidents - nothing like what Maggie went through, but I don't doubt that it would have eventually gotten there, if I had stayed) these were both really difficult and fascinating to look at. I could see my ex's face in that screaming shirtless photo of Shane. It wasn't triggering, exactly, just interesting: another little piece of the puzzle that says "I'm not alone; this happens to many women, and it takes such a similar shape for all of us."

The world is mysterious. I often wonder how, with so many different individuals in the world and all of their idiosyncrasies, how this kind of thing happens. Why do abusers all seem to function in such similar ways?

I think that what the photographer did was brave and wonderful and necessary. This kind of document is so important. I don't think that anyone quite understands what abuse really looks like from the inside. Even as someone who has experienced it, I can't really remember it - it's traumatic, and your mind shuts down to help you survive, I think. But these pictures help. They show everyone - including Shane - what is really going on. I wish that I had photographs of my abuse, because there is one thing I want more than anything in the world: I want my abuser to get help. Maybe this kind of document will help Shane see what he's doing, and maybe he will get help.

I also hope that Maggie is going to something healthy and supportive in Alaska, and that her estranged ex was estranged because of Shane's control and not because he was also abusive. It's not uncommon for people to date multiple abusers - I really think that abuse is like an addictive drug in a lot of ways; once you've experienced it, it may be hard to function in a healthy relationship. I am glad that Sara is going to keep documenting her life. I wish her the best in her long, hard journey. Recovering from abuse is no picnic.
posted by sockermom at 7:35 PM on February 27, 2013 [12 favorites]


Agreed, without that photographic evidence, leaving the abuser might have still meant he had custody of the child ALONE for entire weekends or months over holidays and summer.

I favorited this--although I realize that he was not the father of the children in this case--because I wish that every damn abuser recognized should NEVER be allowed to have time alone with their kids. Even accusations of abuse should be, and often aren't, taken seriously WRT kids. Lots of screwed up power plays take place between men and women over child custody, but sometimes people really do have a good reason for not wanting the kids to see the other parent without supervision.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:26 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I should not have read this thread, I don't have the emtional distance yet from my own abuse. I am completely ugly girl crying right now.

Wow. Okay.

What made me leave was my son coming to sit by me after a bad arguement, patting my shoulder and saying, "It's okay, mommy." And I realized I couldn't let him grow up in that mess.

Memphis trying to hug her mom is super heart rending.
posted by FunkyHelix at 8:33 PM on February 27, 2013 [13 favorites]


I really think that abuse is like an addictive drug in a lot of ways; once you've experienced it, it may be hard to function in a healthy relationship.

For me it wasn't that it was hard to function in a healthy relationship so much as I didn't know what one was. I shouldn't have looked at this thread, it opened up wounds I forgets have. I hope she was able to find peace and safety.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 10:13 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


As someone who used to be the child in these photos, I'm so grateful to the photographer for documenting this. No work of fiction can possibly compare when trying to explain to someone what it's like, and there are too few real-life depictions of it, and the survivors blank it out just so they can cope with ordinary day to day stuff. I hope that many people see this and learn how to recognise it when it's right there in front of them.
posted by harriet vane at 11:00 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


After thinking it over, I realized that I am wrong. She was right to take and importantly, publish those pictures.

I had a glimmer of hope that the beating would stop if the photographer intervened.

But of course that wouldn't have happened. Sara did the right thing, I hope she continues to take valuable pictures that shine a light on reality, and I hope Maggie and her children remain safe and well.

And I hope more than anything that these pictures can help people.
posted by kinetic at 2:27 AM on February 28, 2013 [12 favorites]


kinetic- well stated. In matters like this, I think emotion overwhelms most of us. It's very hard to think clearly about best courses of action surrounding matters like this. Which is doubly why it's good to use as much empathy and compassion as possible trying to understand survivors decisions while coping with this kind of unspeakable trauma.

The worst abusers I've known grew up with domestic violence. They were victims themselves and their thinking never evolved past acceptance of anger, brutality, cruelty, manipulation, induction of fear, and their own desire to be at the top of the power struggle and sadistic urges to hurt people.. just because.

Honestly I want these people to get help. They should have been helped years ago when their moms became single and needed help get financially stable while coping with trauma. Often people go back to abusers or find new abusers, because they have been damaged by abuse and can't function well. Healthy people tend to choose healthy partners, and if you are still struggling with daily life, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, avoidance, numbness, dissociation, and other problems associated with experiencing a lot of abuse, then you aren't as likely to be able to have a sustain a relationship with a healthy partner who has a good capacacity to be a good partner and healthy expectations of what they want and need in return.

The need for comprehensive resources and financial assistance after abusive situations like this can not be stated enough. Not only because leaving a partner is ALWAYS financially hard, but holding a job and making money reliably while taking care of all of a child's needs by yourself is very difficult to do while carrying the lingering effects of trauma and abuse.

There are reasons these things go in cycles and if we stop seeing the reason as purely "bad enabler women make these cycles happen" we might come up with more effective ways to provide the rights kinds of supports and protections when these situations come up.
posted by xarnop at 5:42 AM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


As I scanned through the pictures, my body got more and more tense until I held my breath. I know all too well how the child feels. Saw it for 41 years with my mom. I never, ever wish that witnessing on a child.

The feelings inside of me from my own experiences made me want to beat the ever living shit out of Shane. If you have ever seen Russell Crowe's character in L.A. Confidential when he witnesses domestic violence against women, that is exactly how I feel seeing those pictures. Especially when Shane grabs that little boy--his or not, you do NOT grab a child like that.

Too much.
posted by stormpooper at 6:25 AM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just want to say that my early comment was coming from a place of emotional reaction, and was in no way intended to disparage the photographer for lack of action. She knows her job, I was just upset. The police advice makes perfect sense, and I'm glad these photos exist.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:23 AM on February 28, 2013


The feelings inside of me from my own experiences made me want to beat the ever living shit out of Shane.

It's dangerously ironic that our communal frustration and rage make us want to beat the shit out of someone.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:35 AM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Agreed. It's taken a while, but I think I'm starting to get how the white hot rage one feels at seeing someone abuse a child or a woman or someone else our brain thinks of as "defenseless" is the flip side of the defensive rage that causes abusers to abuse. I don't know exactly how that relationship works, but I know they're related. Abusers were abused, I'm sure when they see someone else hitting a child they feel the same anger we do. When they're abusing, maybe they're defending that imaginary child, hitting back against an abuser who's long gone? I don't know.

What I know: Punching someone in the face doesn't do shit about the real problem. Staying calm and filming them does everything. Kudos to this photographer, and real journalists everywhere documenting bad shit as it goes down.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:16 AM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think there is something loving in the rage. I feel honored when I think of someone being enraged on my behalf. But raw emotions should never dictate behaviors and it's always better to process raw emotions, get them out, re-evaluate them, help them subside... before really looking to problem solve or find solutions. I think there are two good things the rage can do- remind us how deeply we care about the well being of others, and motivate us to both be there for those in need who have been harmed and take action to ensure that people are safe both now and in the future. The actual solution steps involve calm collected thinking, but the root emotion that drives taking these steps SHOULD be unspeakably powerful. Because such is our love for other human beings. It should bring us to our knees with anguish, disbelief, and sorrow to see others (or even ourselves) abused in horrible ways. And rage that a human being could WANT that to happen to someone. I think that rage can be used as a gift, to show those who have been harmed how powerful your love for them is, and how much you disagree with what has happened to them and the belief system that drove it.

But again, we always have to let emotions subside before we can use them in positive ways. The weight of the emotion can cripple us and make us wind up doing LESS to help those who have been harmed or to change the forces that create and enable abusive people and ideologies. As domestic violence teaches is, raw unchecked emotions is no way to drive behavior.
posted by xarnop at 12:10 PM on February 28, 2013




Don’t blame the victim, or the photographer:
In one caption, Sara writes that Shane tried to coax Maggie into the basement by offering Maggie two options: keep getting beaten in the kitchen, or they go “talk privately” in the basement. But there’s a clause that’s not in the caption: “What he said was — he pointed at me at one point and said, ‘Because it’s none of her fucking business.’”
[...]
In case it isn’t clear, it is reasonable to think that Shane thought he was holding back for the camera. It seems reasonable to think that Shane thought what he was doing was harmless enough that even people whose fucking business it wasn’t could watch. It seems reasonable to think Maggie believed the photographer-witness to be her best bet for safety. It would, therefore, it seems to me, be reasonable to think that the act of documentation was not merely passive; it was also protective.
posted by scody at 11:39 AM on March 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


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