How the law turns battered women into criminals
October 2, 2014 7:13 PM   Subscribe

Arlena Lindley’s boyfriend Alonzo Turner beat her for months and murdered her child — so why was she sent to prison for 45 years? "...looking back over the past decade, BuzzFeed News identified 28 mothers in 11 states sentenced to at least 10 years in prison for failing to prevent their partners from harming their children. In every one of these cases, there was evidence the mother herself had been battered by the man." [article contains graphic descriptions of abuse]
posted by desjardins (83 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Wow, I thought this was all going to be because they fought back, like that "fired a gun in warning" case.

The world always provides a new way I couldn't have possibly imagined to be shittier, I guess.
posted by emptythought at 7:31 PM on October 2, 2014 [5 favorites]

Well, that was certainly the most disturbing thing I've read lately -- and I just started law school, in which we read some hella disturbing things for Crim, so that's a higher bar than it was a month ago.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:32 PM on October 2, 2014

What I found especially upsetting reading about this kind of law in law school is that the law is often only for moms - dads who let someone hurt their kids are often not subject to prosecution. Russell Yates comes to mind...
posted by bile and syntax at 7:41 PM on October 2, 2014 [5 favorites]

I'm sorry, but my sympathy goes to the dead child who must have suffered terribly before ultimately being murdered. Children are at the complete and utter mercy of their parents. If the non-abusing parent couldn't put the child's needs first, then who the fuck is going to? The dead child is the real victim here.
posted by SpecialSpaghettiBowl at 7:47 PM on October 2, 2014 [5 favorites]

There can be more than one victim.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:49 PM on October 2, 2014 [87 favorites]

I think both the mother and child were victims, SpecialSpaghettiBowl.
posted by dazed_one at 7:51 PM on October 2, 2014 [5 favorites]

If the non-abusing parent couldn't put the child's needs first, then who the fuck is going to?

Oopsie, someone didn't bother to read the fucking article.

“I done tried to leave plenty of times,” she testified, but he “actually called and threatened to kill my family.”
posted by poffin boffin at 7:57 PM on October 2, 2014 [23 favorites]

No need for a personal attack.

The article states that there had been trouble in the past, which leads me to believe that the violence that occurred on the day the child was murdered was not a one-off. At what point does a person refuse to see the writing on the wall and get their child out of a terrible environment? Adults have choices. Babies don't.
posted by SpecialSpaghettiBowl at 8:01 PM on October 2, 2014 [6 favorites]

This is just heart-breaking. I just can't understand how anyone can think these women are culpable.

(Refresh to show new comments.)

Well, apparently people can. I'll spell it out: if you are constantly walking the razor-edge of fear that whatever you do will result in worse injury to your child, how can you defend them? If your abuser (and your child's future murderer) is hurting your child to punish you, surely if you leave, he will stop, right? Because you won't be there to be punished. If you have reported your abusive partner before for domestic violence and the police have dismissed what is going on, what confidence do you have that calling them this time will result in anything different? And might, in fact, make the situation worse? It doesn't take long to kill a child, it could easily happen between a phone call and the police actually arriving.

I'm sure there are women who neglect and abuse their children. But blaming the ones who try to save their children and fail is just a travesty.
posted by Athanassiel at 8:01 PM on October 2, 2014 [24 favorites]

“I done tried to leave plenty of times,” she testified, but he “actually called and threatened to kill my family.”

That's pretty much the minimum of what he did, actually.

And not only did she not somehow stop him, neither did the father, nor child protective services, nor did the police who were called in more than once. But they are not in jail.
posted by tofu_crouton at 8:02 PM on October 2, 2014 [44 favorites]

Our woman-hating culture always has in the back of its mind the potential explanation that if a father harms his children, the mother MUST have done something to make it happen, because Men aren't Evil, right?
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:05 PM on October 2, 2014 [14 favorites]

I can't believe the quality of some of the stuff BuzzFeed has been doing lately. Between this and Ferguson, they're honestly one of the more exciting news enterprises out there.
posted by lattiboy at 8:06 PM on October 2, 2014 [8 favorites]

I read this quote today in a completely different context (a brilliant article by Waleed Aly), and yet it seems to apply here as well.

"In short, they [women] become the symbolic target for our rage; the avatar we choose to represent a generalised enemy, and the threat it poses. In this, we obey what seems a diabolically universal principle: that whatever the outrage, whatever the fear, and whatever the cause, it is women that must suffer first and most."
posted by Athanassiel at 8:06 PM on October 2, 2014 [25 favorites]

I guess SSB would make a good prosecutor...blame anyone you can get to stick, justice be damned.

Maybe the prosecutors should be prosecuted for miscarrying justice.
posted by notsnot at 8:08 PM on October 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

In one more, a father fractured an infant girl’s toe, femur, and seven ribs and was sentenced to two years; for failing to intervene, the mother got 30.

What the actual fuckity fuck.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:09 PM on October 2, 2014 [60 favorites]

Just in time for bed: Depression!
posted by Going To Maine at 8:12 PM on October 2, 2014 [7 favorites]

Adults have choices.

There is a whole shitload of information out there about why women often don't and can't just up and leave abusive relationships, but I'm guessing you've made up your mind and aren't interested.
posted by Jimbob at 8:12 PM on October 2, 2014 [21 favorites]

This is obviously not good but Buzzfeed is being Buzzfeed here and playing it up like this is an epidemic. They identified fewer than 30 cases of this happening in over a decade. That's vanishingly rare and I'm naturally suspicious of "even one case is too many!" outrages because, while that's true, it's usually used to justify pretty crappy responses which do more harm than they prevent.
posted by Justinian at 8:17 PM on October 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

This is obviously not good but Buzzfeed is being Buzzfeed an American news outlet here and playing it up like this is an epidemic.

Which is hardly to say that this isn't a topic actually worthy of concern.
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:19 PM on October 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

This is obviously not good but Buzzfeed is being Buzzfeed here and playing it up like this is an epidemic. They identified fewer than 30 cases of this happening in over a decade. That's vanishingly rare and I'm naturally suspicious of "even one case is too many!" outrages because, while that's true, it's usually used to justify pretty crappy responses which do more harm than they prevent.

What's the quantitative threshold for significance, though, really? Or if there isn't a threshold, exactly, what degrees and kinds of moral gravity redound to the phenomenon at varying absolute quantities of survivors of domestic abuse being re-victimized by a system that exists to protect them?
posted by clockzero at 8:22 PM on October 2, 2014 [9 favorites]

They identified fewer than 30 cases of this happening in over a decade.

This may not be a huge number, but a healthy justice system does not allow this to happen even once. A just society does not stand quiet for a decade while its government punishes citizens for reasons that are literally incoherent.

Institutional corruption and racism are almost preferable to any of the plausible reasons for how or why this could have happened.

"It only happened 30 times that BuzzFeed knows about" is a completely insane response or justification for this. A society is handing massive jail sentences to people who are not only provably innocent, but also victims themselves. Even if this happens once, I'd have a tough time finding enough profanity to express my outrage. 30 times?? That a cat GIF were the first ones to even care? Jesus Christ...
posted by schmod at 8:36 PM on October 2, 2014 [32 favorites]

If you read the article you would have read that advocacy groups had been trying to put together better stats unsuccessfully. This is actually Buzzfeed committing journalism. Rare, I know, but it happens.

These stories are horrifying. There's so much in our society where people's ability to think and act is heavily constrained by history, circumstance and ongoing mental trauma. And yet somehow we still damn people for not making perfect choices that a "reasonable" person would make.
posted by R343L at 8:45 PM on October 2, 2014 [14 favorites]

I'm rather stunned that someone can so blithely ignore the multiple reasons that an abused woman can't/won't leave a harmful relationship and not consider her a victim as much as her dead child. Stunned.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 8:47 PM on October 2, 2014 [24 favorites]

It seems to me that when a legislator who authored the original law and was instrumental in its passage says "we did not expect the law to be used in that way," this is grounds for the "unexpected" charges to be immediately withdrawn.

Yes, I know, this is not how the law works, but a mollusk can dream.
posted by fireoyster at 8:50 PM on October 2, 2014 [6 favorites]

Even if these were literally the only 28 women to whom this had happened, ever, what is the rationale for not bringing their situation to greater attention? I realize The System is stacked in favour of battered women everywhere, but OH WAIT
posted by wreckingball at 8:52 PM on October 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Adults have choices.

Hi SpecialSpaghettiBowl. I'd like to tell you a little bit about myself, my kids, their dad, and my "choices".

I moved in with my boys' father six weeks after our eldest son was born. I'd known him for fifteen years but we hadn't traditionally dated - the pregnancy was unplanned, he wanted to be an involved parent, I wanted my kid to have a dad.

Within two weeks of moving in I knew it had been a terrible mistake and was constantly on the edge, looking for an out, trying to monitor him around our child, and trying to deal with the panic and depression of giving birth-moving across the country-discovering one's new partner not only feels the rage, but likes to threaten babies.

I would wake up at night, having fallen asleep with my arms wrapped around my son, hearing him scream at the other end of the house. I'd run and find him lying next to his dad on the bed. When asked why the baby was screaming, daddy would shrug and say "I don't know." When asked why he took the sleeping baby from me, he'd say "I just wanted to spend time with him." I couldn't figure out why my baby was screaming like that.

Then the bruises started appearing. At every well baby visit he had, monthly as an infant, I asked if he had some kind of blood disorder or something that would make him bruise easily. "I don't get it" I'd tell the nurse "Every time his dad picks him up his fingers leave a mark." I was a freelancer and the dad was unemployed (temporarily) so he said he'd take the baby for me a couple hours a day while I worked in the basement. As soon as I'd make it downstairs, the screaming would start again, and I would go and take the baby from his father. I refunded my last two freelance clients because I couldn't work at all, trying to keep my son near me and his dad off my back long enough to concentrate.

I stopped leaving the room when they were together. I could spend entire days with my son and never hear a peep out of him, but his dad would pick him up when he got home from work and walk into another room where I couldn't see him and the screaming would start. I don't know what he was doing to him. Pinching him? Squeezing him? Bruises would appear like magic. I slept in the baby's room with the baby between me and the wall and I closed the door so I'd hear it open. The dad complained that I never let him spend any time with his son.

When my eldest was 3 months old I found out I was pregnant again.

Ask me why I didn't leave. Ask me why I didn't get an abortion. The details are complex, the situation has nuance, but I want to fast forward to tonight.

Tonight I am sitting in the living room of my children's father. I actually moved out and rented my own house last February, but the breakup hasn't been at all clean. He ignores me when I tell him I'm done and want only for him to set a visitation schedule and stick with it, and I come over so my kids can see their dad and so I don't have to leave them alone with him.

The boys love their dad. They love their big brother, my stepson. Dad's not so nice to big brother. He says he loves him, but he calls him a lot of names, doesn't have any patience for his 5-ness, and smacks him on the head or arm all the time to get his attention. Occasionally there are spankings, always done in anger, never with any patience or warning.

It is worse when I intervene. The best success I have is what I call "the post-game wrap up", where after big brother goes home to his mom, I neutrally reiterate how some of bb's misbehaviours are directly attributable to the name calling, the hitting. It took us a year and a half to get him to stop punching and kicking when being carried to time out. I don't feel I'm a very good stepmother, but bb's mom and stepdad are also spankers and the one thing I can do for the kid is let him know that under no circumstances will I ever, ever hit him. He's tested me on this and acts both relieved and disgusted that I'm serious (disgusted because he adores his parents and they spank, therefore I must not care very much).

My boys are starting to hit the age bb was when Dad turned sour on him. So far, their dad has tried spankings a couple times and been quickly shut down, once in front of his mother. I got holy hell from him after his mom went home but I didn't back down - you don't touch them. I always follow it up with the three step rule - warning, time out, lose a privilege. Maybe if I chant it often enough it'll penetrate into his brain.

But the point of my longwinded story is this: dad makes a lot of jokes about how our oldest will be the only one allowed to live at home as an adult "Because I was mean to him when he was a baby". He spoils my oldest and indulges him and tells everyone he's the special buddy. I still have no idea exactly what he did to him, I just remember the screaming. I will never forget that sound. But my oldest adores his father, and when I moved out, and when we spend nights over at my house two or three times a week as we inevitably do when I get tired of their dad using "Bitch" as my first name too frequently, he's the one who cries and worries about daddy. So I go back, and I still find myself following them around to make sure they're not alone together for too long.

My second baby? I don't think his father held him until he was over a year old. Only very recently have they started spending one on one time together, and only in short doses. I'm in a relationship I don't want to be in, that I have thought I ended successfully probably 100 times in the last eight months, and the alternative is to go to court and let them assign my ex unsupervised time with them. I might - MIGHT be able to get the nurse practitioner who saw them as babies to testify about the bruises, but then again, I didn't actually see it, you know?

I don't know what the fuck to do. I'm educated, white*, financially independent, a property owner, and all these choices I have don't look at all like real choices, they look either like fearful evasion or panicked decision making. If I leave things as they are, I'm just delaying the inevitable, but at least my kids will be a little older before I have to let them go.

And because he's never knocked me out and because he's more patient with the boys the more I'm around, the harder it is for me to say to anyone else "He's abusive" and have them understand that it's beyond name-calling, but not the level of black eyes and broken bones. When he's calm, I feel like I'm making a big deal out of it because I want out. When the switch flips and his eyes go dark and he flicks me awake at night when a crying baby wakes HIM up and then spends the next fifteen minutes telling me what a stupid fucking bitch I am, how useless, how fucking awful I am, then I remember oh, this. This is what I don't want my sons to grow up with as their normal. But then I leave and I don't see my stepson for two weeks and my babies keep asking where their dad is, where their brother is, and their dad tells me I'm ripping the family apart because I'm a pussy, can't take a little joke...

Fuck it, I'm not going to make this anonymous. It's not anything I haven't said out loud, to his face, to his parents, to his ex-wife, to our couples therapist, to anyone who would listen. I am only sharing it with YOU because giving you the opportunity to walk a mile in my shoes might be a gift that helps some other woman some day. Someone who's got it a lot worse than me.

*I point this out because that means I have certain privileges in a court of law that other women in my position do not.
posted by annathea at 8:59 PM on October 2, 2014 [208 favorites]

Purposeful Grimace, I feel the same. I've seen some epic empathy fails here before, but I don't even know how to start to respond.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:00 PM on October 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Christ, annathea. Thank you for sharing a really powerful story. I hope your situation improves soon, no matter what form that takes, and that you and your children find some peace.
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:06 PM on October 2, 2014 [13 favorites]

And now I'm afraid of all the gaps I left in the story. I'm afraid of having my kids taken from me for admitting that their dad bruised my oldest as a baby and made him scream, that even hiding around the corner and watching I couldn't figure out what he was doing (I saw him holding my son up above his head and turning slowly with a grin on his face. Hardly abusive. But the baby screamed and later there were bruises, so what did I miss? How did I fail to protect him yet again?). I'm afraid of never seeing my stepson again if I'm successful at leaving for good, and my boys losing a brother. When I said "delaying the inevitable" above I meant a messy divorce, with court and the whole shebang, not dead children. Right now he doesn't spank them, he doesn't get many opportunities to discipline them at all, and I am weary but ever-vigilant. If he snapped some day and seriously hurt any of our boys I would feel devastated that I didn't prevent it but until it fucking happens how do I know it will ever happen? How do I protect them from someone who is only sometimes and to only certain degrees, a threat?
posted by annathea at 9:08 PM on October 2, 2014 [18 favorites]

There can be more than one victim.

I think we can agree that there are degrees of victimhood; I'd argue that most people would conclude that the murdered child is by any measure the greater victim here.

“I done tried to leave plenty of times,” she testified, but he “actually called and threatened to kill my family.”

Well, unfortunately, she stayed and guess what, he didn't threaten to kill her family, he DID kill a member of her family.

I don't think the mother should be in jail, but I do think she carries responsibility for not removing her child from this situation where there was clearly a pattern of violence before the murder. Wouldn't you do all that you could to keep your kid away from harm? Wouldn't you hide, hop a bus, go to the wall for your kid?
posted by SpecialSpaghettiBowl at 9:11 PM on October 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't think the mother should be in jail,

Then you disagree with the laws that imprisoned these women, so what the fuck are you arguing about?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:13 PM on October 2, 2014 [29 favorites]

SpecialSpaghettiBowl: "Wouldn't you do all that you could to keep your kid away from harm? Wouldn't you hide, hop a bus, go to the wall for your kid?"

What if "all you can do" isn't enough?
posted by notsnot at 9:16 PM on October 2, 2014 [9 favorites]

I was at an event once where a domestic violence incident occurred. Someone violated a restraining order, broke in through a locked door into the event and attacked their ex, who was a participant. Straight up attack in front of tons of people. Most people just let it happen. Three people broke up the physical altercation, and detained the attacker until the police got there. There were numerous witnesses including several lawyers, various well regarded professionals in fields like medicine, science etc. There were at least 4 active law enforcement personnel there, with badges. The police interviewed them all. Everyone assured the victim that the attacker was going to jail and it was all over.

When the third or fourth lawyer was telling them how the assailant was going to jail for this and would lose their job and it was all over now I spoke up: stop telling them that. They'll be out in the morning and do no jail time. Slap on the wrist at worst, will not lose their job. I was right. They didn't even get charged for drunk driving and they weren't remotely sober and didn't fly there.

If society could actually protect victims of domestic violence, people wouldn't stay. We can't, they do.
posted by fshgrl at 9:19 PM on October 2, 2014 [57 favorites]

I think I read the same article you did and it sounded like the established pattern of violence was mostly against her. He'd never kicked her son in the stomach repeatedly before, had he? The one time he did, it killed him. How could she have imagined that outcome? She clearly thought if she made him any angrier he'd hurt her baby, not knowing that it was already far beyond that.

You know what kind of mother lets her 3 yr old son eat his breakfast outside of the house sitting on the steps? The kind who tries to keep him away from her abusive partner as much as possible. She maybe could have prevented his death by calling 911, but I bet she was more afraid that a police presence would result in escalating the situation, her losing her son to the fostercare system. She was banking on her boyfriend not hurting the child because it is really tough to imagine that someone who can be loving to you can also kill through cruelty.

You, and I, have no idea what happened to and between those people on that day. All we did was read one lousy article. She's in prison for the rest of her life because someone she loved killed her baby and even though she did what she was capable of, the courts decided she didn't do it right or at the right time or hard enough. The prosecutors of these women said that had they slit their partners' throats they wouldn't have prosecuted which is so much magical thinking lying bullshit I can't even.
posted by annathea at 9:22 PM on October 2, 2014 [49 favorites]

annathea, thank you for your story and your bravery. I hope you can find some peace soon.
posted by desjardins at 9:25 PM on October 2, 2014 [11 favorites]

[A couple comments removed, people please try to keep it cool. SpecialSpaghettiBowl, I feel like you're coming off pretty tone-deaf in the sort of what-and-when of how you're trying to pursue this line of thought and I think it'd be best if you just let this drop at this point so that this thread doesn't descend entirely into an argument between you and everyone who's feeling justifiably irked about your choice of argument.]
posted by cortex at 9:26 PM on October 2, 2014 [5 favorites]

I apologize, folks, for any offense I have caused. It honestly wasn't my intention. I wish you all a peaceful evening.
posted by SpecialSpaghettiBowl at 9:32 PM on October 2, 2014 [5 favorites]

Sometimes I'm reduced to giving comments favorites as a substitute for giving the poster a sympathetic ear and as much kindness as possible. But your comments, annathea, tell of so much hardness that you are dealing with that I can't actually click the word "favorite". So please consider me as having "favorited" your strength and ability to persevere and try to do the best for your kids.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:37 PM on October 2, 2014 [14 favorites]

Wouldn't you hide, hop a bus, go to the wall for your kid?

You make these sound like easy options. I don't know exactly what kinds of resources Lindley (the mother in the story) had, but I do know other women in similar situations.

Hide? Where? Lots of these women do not have the resources to start over somewhere else. The first thing the abuser will do is track down their family and friends, so they can't stay there. She can't go back to her job, he knows where she works. Shelters have limited space and aren't meant to hold people indefinitely.

Hop a bus? Where to? See above. Do you personally have the resources to completely start over in a new town and never contact anyone from your old life? Can you quit your job, break your lease (or sell your house), find a new job, find a new place to live, and come up with a security deposit... all without the person you live with finding out?

Go to the wall? What does that mean? Fight back? That could mean certain death since most men are stronger than most women. Call the cops? Often that does nothing except make them angrier.

Women are most vulnerable precisely when they leave, and it is not easy to leave.

annathea makes another good point - many kids actually love their abusers and do not want to be removed from them. In the absence of a conviction, the courts will force parental visitation.
posted by desjardins at 9:42 PM on October 2, 2014 [33 favorites]

ugh, sorry cortex, but I hope you can leave my comment so that others who are tempted to pursue this line of argument might think twice.
posted by desjardins at 9:43 PM on October 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Anyway, this brings to mind a previous thread about a mother who was conflicted about leaving her abuser. Lots of mefites shared very poignant and painful stories therein.
posted by desjardins at 9:45 PM on October 2, 2014 [8 favorites]

Wouldn't you hide, hop a bus, go to the wall for your kid?

I'm trying to keep it cool because this is Metafilter, and my preview shows cortex deleting a bunch of people for jumping up and down on this.

Still... I was the kid in this scenario. Without going into gory details, my biological father was an abusive fuck, and my mother left. I lived this life from the kid's perspective. There are so many hurdles to escape I don't even know where to start, but the basics include:

* The legal system. A person can commit documented abusive behavior and still have custody rights. It's like they have a computer optimized to give the worst possible outcome in this sort of situation.

* Finding the money to raise children as a single parent. I mean... hopping a wall's great, but you have to feed them, clothe them, put a roof over their head. A lot of people barely have the resources to do that with the income of their spouse, much less without.

* Support networks are strained by this sort of thing. You'd be surprised how many people reflexively take the side of an abusive husband. Seriously.

This was the best thing anybody ever did for me in my life, and it still upended everything, resulting in many years of hardship. It can't be undertaken lightly, and some people can't afford to do it at all for all sorts of reasons.

annathea: I wish you all the best.

Upon preview:
Guess desjardins covered it too, but it's really hard to stay quiet about it, having lived it.
posted by mordax at 9:46 PM on October 2, 2014 [33 favorites]

"It only happened 30 times that BuzzFeed knows about" is a completely insane response or justification for this.

If you think I posted any kind of justification you need to re-read my comment. Several times.

It's very easy to come up with examples of very real but rare outrages where the natural well-intentioned response has led to making things worse. The idea that caution about this is seen as justification for the initial outrage is one of the reasons We Can't Have Nice Things unless everybody apparently marches in absolute lockstep. Hell, I can think of some very real and not rare outrages where the response has been problematic so it seems like we'd be even more careful in response to something that happens so rarely.

But somehow "let's be careful about how we construct the solution to this because these things tend to have unintended consequences" is innnnsaaane.
posted by Justinian at 10:14 PM on October 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

It's very easy to come up with examples of very real but rare outrages where the natural well-intentioned response has led to making things worse.

My God is this the wrong thread to make that type of argument.
posted by phaedon at 10:21 PM on October 2, 2014 [13 favorites]

It took my dumb, scared kid self a long time to realize that my mother did as much as she could to protect us from my father. At the time, there were moments when I resented that it wasn't more, but then you have that moment when you realize that adults can't fix everything.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:23 PM on October 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

And also: what woman really thinks that her partner, who at some level she probably loves no matter what horrible things he has done to her, will really kill their child? Who really believes that? And at what point do you identify your partner as a potential murderer? When they get mad and call you names, but hey, you called them some nasty things too? When they smash something? When you're fighting and they growl and hit the wall and you think it might have been you? When they talk about how their parents spanked/smacked/hit them all the time and it's just what parents do to teach kids about right and wrong?

People can do these things and yet not be murderers, not even be abusers. It's so easy to see the warnings with hindsight and know what should have been done to prevent it. None of us is Cassandra, and even with her foreknowledge she couldn't necessarily stop what was going to happen.
posted by Athanassiel at 10:26 PM on October 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

Not to mention that women are significantly more in danger from their abusers after they make any attempt to leave, and there's a real possibility that could be true for children as well (unfortunately, the only data I could find was a CASA report castigating researchers for the fact no one has systematically studied this despite the insane importance of it.) Leaving is hardly a "responsible" decision if your only metric is the safety of the child.
posted by WidgetAlley at 10:35 PM on October 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Which is not to say that abuse survivors SHOULDN'T leave, just that this is a classic case of moving goalposts. "Why didn't you leave?" "Well, because I was afraid he would do something even worse." But if you leave, and he does something even worse, then, "Why did you make things worse by leaving?"
posted by WidgetAlley at 10:36 PM on October 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

I do not want to pile on toward a poster who has walked away, but I do want to say something, in case there are other people out there who feel as though these mothers could have just left:

Without getting too deep into my history, there is a reason that by age 7 I had been held hostage at gunpoint several times. Because my mom was trying to sneak me and my sister out to leave the man who used to abuse all of us. He lived out in the middle of nowhere so no one ever heard a thing. Sometimes we would actually make it out. Then I would be sleeping in my bed and get woken up in the middle of the night as my mom packed us in the car and took us to my grandparents house because he would call and tell her he was coming over to kill us if she didn't come back to him. He would call the house and if I would answer he would threaten me and tell me to tell my mom I wanted to see him or else. He knew where my grandparents lived and so I remember my grandpa pulling out his own gun once we were there. And I remember hiding in his parents house in a bedroom as his father shot this man, his own son, who was trying to break into the house to get to us. The asshole survived. I don't know how my mom eventually left him for good. One day he just stopped being there. I'm hoping it was because he finally ended up in jail or died. My mom was a single mom and was about 24 at the time. She had both me and my sister when she was a teenager. I know the cops were called sometimes but I was too young and scared to really know what happened, but it being Texas in the 80's a lot of this was just seen as "he said/she said lover's spats" or whatever.

Anyway, I guess my point is that a lot of times leaving is what escalates it to the point where people get killed. And I don't think a lot of people understand that.
posted by primalux at 10:41 PM on October 2, 2014 [56 favorites]

On top of all the other horror...

She also had another option, one that Deen said he would not have prosecuted her for: “She should’ve cut his throat while he slept.”

As Annathea said, this is magical thinking lying bullshit – and also raises the spectre of a prosecutor who doesn't grasp the psychological impact of taking a life.
posted by not the fingers, not the fingers at 11:05 PM on October 2, 2014 [17 favorites]

Yeah, if you want to kill your abuser, you'd better be damn sure they die, and if you're a woman, you better be sure it looks like an accident. (If you're a white male, just kill any non-white male and say you felt threatened, or you thought they were an intruder in your bathroom.)
posted by benzenedream at 11:24 PM on October 2, 2014 [4 favorites]

"Both Lindley and Titches had suffered beatings for months".

Although 45 years is way harsh, the way this grown woman handled this situation was reprehensible. She allowed her child to be beaten on for months. A mother is not absolved from trying to protect her child, just because she is scared of the father. Infantilizing women and deeming them incapable of doing what needs to be done to protect their child is disgustingly sexist. The child is the one in this situation who was the true victim.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 1:34 AM on October 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm sympathetic to the women. I think it's ridiculous that some of them are in jail longer than the men that killed their children but at the same time, I don't know if they can be absolved of all blame. I think all parents, fathers included, have to take full responsibility for their children's care and if somehow, their child dies in a dangerous situation they created or sustained, then they are negligent.

I've never been in their situations, but I can understand that there are lots of cards stacked against the victims. Yet, just because something is difficult doesn't mean that they are suddenly blameless.

That being said, I'm not sure jail is the answer. I don't know what the answer is. I think somehow, we need better resources and better ways to protect these women so that they have support and protection when they leave. Perhaps when child services is called, they should actually do their jobs. I don't know. Kids shouldn't be dying like this.
posted by cyml at 1:44 AM on October 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's easy to mouth off when you have't bene in that situation, but magically thinking that the victim should just've done this or that to protect her kid is still victim blaming and you're still a disgusting human being if you think that.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:15 AM on October 3, 2014 [30 favorites]

Allowed her child to be beaten on? Did you read the article? The parts about how she tried to leave multiple times, how he tracked her down and put her in the car boot to forcibly bring her back? It is not infantilising to say that she is not the one who killed the child, that she tried to save both her son and herself and she failed. I bet she blames herself every single day, I bet not an hour goes by that she doesn't think, 'if only I had...' And unlike us, she doesn't get to close the browser and go do something else. She has to live with it forever. The point of her being in gaol is what, exactly?

As for difficult, quitting smoking is difficult. Losing weight is difficult. Working two jobs is difficult. Trying to ensure your child's safety and your own when your partner is abusive isn't difficult, it's a bloody nightmare. Imagine you are being tortured on a regular basis. Physical torture, humiliation, verbal abuse. The threat of this torture hangs over everyone you love. You try to get the officials involved - police, doctors, child protection. They don't believe you, they believe your torturer. The torture worsens every time you try. You try to escape. Your torturer finds you, brings you back to his favourite torture spot. You believe he will kill you. If he kills you, who will protect your child? And no one can help you, not for long. And every day your reality is stripped of choice, stripped of free will, stripped of the ability to even imagine that things could be different.

Why can we believe torture victims, people who have been kidnapped and held prisoner, can be brainwashed, traumatised and had their sense of self irreparably damaged and yet be unwilling to accord women the same compassion because their kidnapper, their torturer, their gaoler is their partner? Because in inhuman circumstances they cannot be superhuman?
posted by Athanassiel at 3:59 AM on October 3, 2014 [45 favorites]

What a terrible article from a policy shaping perspective. What percentages of these cases was it then father doing the abusing, or an unrelated boyfriend? Fathers have a legal right to be in a child's presence; boyfriends are there by the mother's (usually) free and revocable choice. Do the laws in question make the ability to protect the child an element of the crime, or inability to do so an affirmative offense? A tiny percentage of child abuse results in failure to protect jail time, and a jury convicted each of these women or the facts were so open and shut their lawyers had them take a plea -- but they don't appear to have spent any time with the prosecutor, lead investigator or even trial transcripts to understand why the convictions were sought and obtained and such ling sentences imposed in these cases.
posted by MattD at 4:37 AM on October 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

but they don't appear to have spent any time with the prosecutor, lead investigator or even trial transcripts to understand why the convictions were sought and obtained and such ling sentences imposed in these cases.

Did you read the article? Because there's an entire subsection where they do exactly that (emphasis mine):
After Victoria first confessed, prosecutor Thomas Deen worried that Daniel might try to exert influence on her from within jail, so Deen moved him to another county as he built his case. Deen concluded that Victoria had not abused her daughter. He agreed to drop the capital murder charge, as long as Victoria testified truthfully against Daniel — and if she pled guilty to “permitting child abuse,” a felony in Arkansas that warrants between five and twenty years in prison.

Daniel also pled guilty, in his case to first-degree murder. (In a jailhouse interview, Daniel told BuzzFeed News that despite his guilty plea, he was innocent of murder and that he never abused Victoria.) At his sentencing hearing, Victoria’s testimony helped put Daniel away on a life sentence. At her own sentencing hearing, she took the stand and told essentially the same story. But this time Deen’s prosecuting team cross-examined her.
In his closing argument, Deen’s deputy pinned her on her early lies to the police. Victoria had said she didn’t begin to open up until she was in jail because that was the first time she didn’t have to fear how Daniel might react. The prosecutor disagreed. “It wasn’t that she felt safe,” he said. “It was that she was caught.” In rebuttal, Victoria’s attorney asked for mercy, brandishing pictures of the bruises jail officials found on Victoria when they booked her.

Victoria’s jury took less time to deliberate than Daniel’s had. Victoria got the maximum, 20 years. She will also have to register as a sex offender, even though her daughter suffered no sexual abuse. Under Arkansas law, that’s a requirement of anyone convicted of “permitting child abuse,” regardless of the type of abuse. (Victoria is appealing her sentence and her status as a sex offender.)

In his Main Street office this past spring, Deen said he had come to the conclusion that Daniel dominated Victoria’s every move — but that did not exonerate her. Victoria could have sought help from the police, or her family and friends.

She also had another option, one that Deen said he would not have prosecuted her for: “She should’ve cut his throat while he slept.”
That last bit is particularly horrifying, as it is a prosecutor encouraging first-degree murder and then, despite the overwhelming preponderance of evidence the American justice system has presented us with, nobly stating he would have let such a thing happen. I think most of us who read that line were probably thinking the same thing I was: Bull-fucking-shit he wouldn't have prosecuted her. And in the unlikely event he didn't, the state would have found someone who would.

It's heartbreaking and appalling that in the year 2014, we still have people so willing to blame the the victims of abuse for the abuse of others that they could not stop. I find it hard to believe that it is so inconceivable that the entire system from the cops who refused to prosecute prior abuses, to the well-funded prosecutors' offices that are engage in their own manipulation and domination of the abused parent, to the the criminally underpaid and overwhelmed public defenders who have their hands tied by shitty laws is not favored towards the victims who manage to survive.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:07 AM on October 3, 2014 [31 favorites]

Zombieflanders -- my bad -- most of the article didn't load on my phone. Still didn't see the elements of the crime or affirmative defense, that would have been very helpful to understand how these prosecutions are brought and defended (or not).
posted by MattD at 5:37 AM on October 3, 2014

In one more, a father fractured an infant girl’s toe, femur, and seven ribs and was sentenced to two years; for failing to intervene, the mother got 30.

What the actual fuckity fuck.

I wish there was more info on this, since they both plead guilty. Here's an article about the arrests in that case, but I couldn't find anything on the sentencing.
posted by smackfu at 5:46 AM on October 3, 2014

in fact, women perpetrate 34% of serious or fatal cases of physical abuse of children, according to the latest congressionally mandated national study of child abuse. But interviews and BuzzFeed News’ analysis of cases show that fathers rarely face prosecution for failing to stop their partners from harming their children. Overwhelmingly, women bear the weight of these laws.
This is not surprising.
posted by jeather at 5:49 AM on October 3, 2014 [7 favorites]

It's not like one day you're with your abuser and the next day you've left. Leaving is a process. And if you've got kids, it's never really finished.

How's this: if these women had left, many of these men would have been granted unsupervised custody time with these children. That sound like a better option?
posted by sockermom at 6:00 AM on October 3, 2014 [14 favorites]

one if the most damaging lies that society tells itself, and that the mra movement is built on, is that women are always believed when they say they are abused and that the family courts are preferential to women/eager to remove kids from their fathers. these are absolutely not true and the assumption of truth hurts so many women and kids. if you think is easy to keep an abusive father and away from his kids after their mother left with them, you are sorely misinformed.
posted by nadawi at 6:25 AM on October 3, 2014 [23 favorites]

oh and if anyone thinks these women pleading guilty means anything other than our justice system is broken you haven't looked at the overall numbers of plea bargains vs going to trial and researched the reasons for that.
posted by nadawi at 6:42 AM on October 3, 2014 [9 favorites]

I read this thread last night before bed, on the verge of tears and just angry as all fuck. I am so so so angry. I unsubscribed from /r/pcgaming because the misogyny under the guise of "gamergate" was already just making me irate. And then a friend posts something on FB (innocently) about intel pulling ads from gamasutra, and his friends start commenting about how we (i.e. people like me) say it's about feminism but it's about corruption, then proceeds to attack the women involved (not, of course, the journalists who it's supposedly about). Then a friend posts last night about this guy who runs in the same circles as her saying shit like hurling epithets and death threats at a particular woman, absolutely vile and disgusting words. And of course this post and I just ... Goddamnit. How hard do we have to fight for women just to be treated equally? How hard is it in this supposed "liberal democracy" (by supposed "liberals" even) to just treat women as people who deserve their own autonomy and when they say something they have the right to say it and if you disagree you can disagree without throwing around threats of violence towards them.
posted by symbioid at 6:45 AM on October 3, 2014 [6 favorites]

Any criticism of the women's actions with respect to the legal system should take into account that all of the women profiled in the article were women of color.
posted by desjardins at 7:49 AM on October 3, 2014 [24 favorites]

Although 45 years is way harsh, the way this grown woman handled this situation was reprehensible. She allowed her child to be beaten on for months. A mother is not absolved from trying to protect her child, just because she is scared of the father. Infantilizing women and deeming them incapable of doing what needs to be done to protect their child is disgustingly sexist. The child is the one in this situation who was the true victim.

It's like you didn't read the article, nor did you read every single response in this thread telling the other person who said exactly the same thing why they were wrong.

I'm guessing you don't know what it's like to be abused and terrified. My father was an abusive asshole--I remember nights, days, mornings when he and my stepmother would be screaming, then there'd be a thump, and she 'fell over.' I remember my father picking me up by the scruff of my neck. I remember him hitting me so hard my face bounced off a doorframe.

Lucky you for not knowing those things. But you don't understand the paralyzing fear involved. When I finally got away from him, I was 16 and had attempted suicide. Went to live with my sister. I had to call him because a) I needed money in order to survive, and b) less importantly, I wanted my things. Getting my stuff was easy; I had a couple of cops (not enough evidence to charge him with assault) accompany me home when I knew he'd be out. The money, not so easy; I told him to put a cheque in the mail. Instead he showed up at my sister's apartment, at night, and somehow got in the building. He then spent ten minutes--or a million years, which is what it felt like--using packing tape to stick an envelope to her front door. I spent the entire time hiding in the kitchen holding a knife and shaking, terrified he'd make it in somehow, and my toddler niece would be injured, and it would be all my fault.

Stop blaming the victim here. Just stop.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:24 AM on October 3, 2014 [26 favorites]

I should clarify, as it's germane: the cops were the ones who told me they couldn't charge him with assault. The thought had never even crossed my mind because holy shit, he'd go ballistic.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:42 AM on October 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

I feel like I need to reiterate the point about "unsupervised access to the children." When you are partnered with someone, you can make sure you are always there when they are with the children. When you leave, you can't automatically, instantly, or totally sever their parental rights -- until the state decides otherwise, they have the right to a parental relationship with their children, and that includes unsupervised visitation. If you withhold the children from their other parent, you can be found in contempt and can go to jail, at which point the kids will be with their other parent full time and you dramatically harm your own custody case. So when you choose to leave, you are often choosing to hand your children over to a person who has shown perfect willingness to harm them, and whom you have just angered terribly, and then walk away and leave him alone with them. Do you not see how that could be a scenario that would seem too risky to chance?
posted by KathrynT at 9:25 AM on October 3, 2014 [24 favorites]

How's this: if these women had left, many of these men would have been granted unsupervised custody time with these children. That sound like a better option?


if you think is easy to keep an abusive father and away from his kids after their mother left with them, you are sorely misinformed.

Y'know, when I tell people that after the divorce I never saw or heard from my father again, and he made no attempt to gain visitation or custody, they get all shocked and say how terrible it is. But I consider myself one of the lucky ones.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:35 AM on October 3, 2014 [10 favorites]

annathea and mordax, I am so terribly sorry for what you went thru. I can only echo what WidgetAlley, desjardins and other have said, and wish you peace.
posted by Gelatin at 10:16 AM on October 3, 2014 [5 favorites]

More people than you can imagine have survived abuse. People you know and have known for years. Close friends. Coworkers. Bosses.

It is not uncommon for people to neglect to report abuse because they are afraid that not only will they be legally blamed (is this a new thing?), but that they will have their children taken away from them if they tell the police that an ex of theirs assaulted and abused their child. It's a real fear.

The system is beyond broken and children (and spouses) continue to be abused because of it.

And we are all to blame.
posted by el io at 1:03 PM on October 3, 2014 [5 favorites]

Ok, I'm crying, because I remember when I was a child, my mother trying to comfort a crying friend of hers, because this woman could not protect her children.

Her ex-partner had committed some kind of sexual abuse of their daughter. Her little daughter had said it, and he'd admitted to her one night that he "Touched her, but he hadn't hurt her", but then denied that forever afterwards, and then claimed it was all lies, that she was coaching her child, turning her against him, etc etc. She tried to get charges, failed.

She wasn't against visitation, she wanted her children to know their father. But she wanted it to be supervised visitation, for completely obvious reasons. The family home was sold, and I believe it was entirely spent on the legal fees on both sides, while she tried to fight for supervised visitation only.

At the end of it, she had nothing, and she didn't succeed in supervised visitation. However, at least the situation didn't last long, as he decided to go work in Dubai, as he was in an industry that already got him 6 figures (so, probably a ridiculous amount there). He'd ruined her because he could.

Now, you'll note above I said 'children'. Thing is - they had a son too. Her ex-husband never tried to get visitation with him, actually, he refused, while there was a little boy crying, and asking where his Daddy had gone. She also tried to get it that he only had visitation with both of them. But he wanted visitation only with his daughter.

That's the bit that really convinced me she'd got involved with a pathological narcissist. For so long he looked fine, on the surface, he had a good job, they had a nice home, he acted all right, seemed to be a loving father. And then, as soon as the facade crumbled, and he no longer had that perfect life, he completely abandoned his son, and only went after his daughter because that's what he was being denied. So many people on here have similar stories.

There are others. It is very, very hard to prevent visitation with an abusive parent. Especially if they were abusive to the partner, not the children. And all that abusive partner has to say, is if you leave me, I will get visitation, and I will hurt our/your child. What are you supposed to do there? How do you get away?
posted by Elysum at 9:28 PM on October 3, 2014 [7 favorites]

This is what happens when women stay and try to use force or violence to try to stop abuse when children are present.

In other words, if you are unlucky enough to find yourself in a relationship with someone who abuses you and/or your children, there is literally nothing you can do (other than let yourself be killed, apparently) that won't result in at least some chance of you spending the rest of your life in prison.
posted by decathecting at 6:56 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

In other words, if you are unlucky enough to find yourself in a relationship with someone who abuses you and/or your children, there is literally nothing you can do (other than let yourself be killed, apparently) that won't result in at least some chance of you spending the rest of your life in prison.

Decathecting, that is untrue, and worse, it is perhaps the most dangerous takeaway anyone could get from this discussion.

It may be extremely difficult to extricate yourself from an abusive situation, but it can be done. Sometimes, it seems like there are no options, and that's why shelters and aid for the abused are so vital and why counseling and outside help is so necessary, because the abuser does such a number on the victim that you often cannot see the options that are there clearly. You are psychologically traumatized, brainwashed to think it cannot get better and you do not deserve better than this life of abuse anyway.

I fear for women like Athanassiel and her children. I fear for every woman in situations like these in this post. We should not be imprisoning these women who are trying to leave their abusers and being abused themselves. We should be doing everything in our power to help them escape the abuse, the brainwashing and the beatings, even when they are too beaten down-- literally--to clearly see the need to leave.

Because the truth is that even though these kids may love their abusers, their parents, stepfamily, siblings, even though these women feel hopeless, even though their financial situation will surely worsen when they go, leaving the abuser is always the right choice Always. Yes, even if he threatens to kill her or them. Because if he is capable of carrying out that threat, they are all already living under a death sentence. It is not a matter of if, but when.
posted by misha at 10:56 PM on October 4, 2014

Whoa, I don't have kids and although I have some experience with abusive relationships, I'm not in a relationship at all right now. Possibly you got me confused with annathea above. I agree that women in abusive relationships are much better out of them and that it's not an impossibility. But I have a good deal of empathy and understanding for those who do feel trapped in them.
posted by Athanassiel at 11:22 PM on October 4, 2014

I'm so sorry for my mistake! I had autofill on and managed to confuse your names, yes.
posted by misha at 12:10 AM on October 5, 2014

In my opinion, these are things that need to happen to make leaving easier/safer for people who are being abused:

- Restraining orders issued before violence occurs
- Restraining orders cover the victim's family and workplace
- Guns are taken away when restraining orders are served
- Strict and immediate enforcement of restraining orders
- Parents with past restraining orders against them cannot have unsupervised visits with children
- Penalties for third parties who help abuser violate restraining order (e.g. friend tells abuser where victim lives)

- Immediate financial help for victims - housing, food, clothing, childcare
- Help finding new employment
- No penalty for breaking a lease due to fear of violence
- No charge for name changes, removal of name/address from phone listings, etc.
- Help changing phone numbers, passwords, free education on privacy & security
- Help freezing bank accounts, credit, etc

The following based on NET income (not GROSS, this drove me crazy bc I have a good income, but poor credit and a lot of debt):
- Help with transportation to/from court
- Free/low-cost counseling for victims
- Free/low-cost drug & alcohol recovery programs for victims (if that contributed to staying)
- Free/low-cost legal advice & representation (easy to get advice, hard to get representation)
- Free/low-cost financial counseling

Some of these things already exist to one degree or another, but often people are not aware of them. My local shelter doesn't have the words "abuse," "domestic," "violence," or "shelter" in its name and it's not immediately clear from their website what they do. Shelters, like other social programs, tend to be understaffed and underfunded.
posted by desjardins at 8:06 AM on October 5, 2014 [10 favorites]

That's true, desjardins, and it's not like shelters can advertise their services to the general public, because victims need to go to a place of relative anonymity for their own security. So often the people who need help the most don't even know what help is available.

It's just so frustrating that we aren't doing better with this! You see something like the Ray Rice situation, where the abuse is so obvious and shocking, and think it is clearcut, there's public outcry--and yet the victim married her abuser soon after that cold-blooded, vicious attack.

I remember back when Rhianna's abuse was in all the news, and I was standing in line at the store. Two women, just a couple years younger than I was probably, were looking at a magazine cover with a graphic picture of the bruises and swollen eye, etc. One of the women was Latina and the other African-American. So the Hispanic woman and I get to talking, bonding in line over this horrific story of abuse, shaking our heads, and the other young woman, who had been quiet through much of this, speaks up and says something like, "He gets that jealous, you know Chris Brown must really Love her," and of course we are harrumphing and laughing at that, naturally, assuming she is being sarcastic.

But the scary thing is, we both realized about the same time that she was absolutely serious. She really did believe Chris Brown was beating up Rihanna because he was so passionately in love with her.

And the other woman and I share this horrified look and we are both, I'm pretty sure, mentally regrouping here, trying to figure out how to even respond because we've just been stunned into silence. And I'm the stranger here, and they're together and friends, so I am feeling helpless. In
the back of my mind I am feeling it is not my place to argue with this young woman--Because who am I? I don't know her, I have no idea what personal demons she may be struggling with--but the idea that someone is walking around accepting that this is what love looks like is just obscene. I didn't know what to say. I don't know that there is anything I could have said.

But it's their turn in line and the cashier is ringing up their stuff. Whatever I might have said is lost now in any case. Her friend turns and starts speaking very rapidly and earnestly to her in
Spanish, holding onto her elbow, and she's listening and nodding, which is good maybe? But her eyes are kinda darting to the side, to me and to the cashier and it's obvious she wishes she were
anywhere else than in that line with us. We all all kind of nod to each other as they leave. They're
gone, and I am standing there feeling like I let her down because I didn't do anything, though for the life of me I don't know what that something could have been, that might somehow counteract a life that has led to an outlook like hers, in her stage of life. This is a woman who shops where I shop, at an age not so far removed from mine, but just worlds apart in perspective. I cannot even
imagine what her life has been like, to bring her to that place.

That's, obviously, quite a long time ago now. But I brought that moment up here specifically because I have been thinking about domestic violence a lot lately and I feel it is relevant that, as has already been mentioned in this thread, the women who were prosecuted were all women of color, too.

Obviously anyone, of any race, can be a victim of abuse, just as anyone can be an abuser. I do wonder though if, as with so many other issues in society, we aren't specifically failing women of color at some fundamental level when it comes to domestic abuse, to a greater extent than the rest of the general population. I cannot help but notice the disparity, the high percentage of black wome who have been beaten nearly to death who end up in our shelters where I live. Why that is, though, is tougher to address. It is not simply an income or social status issue, because we see
this disparity across those levels. There is a level almost of acceptance of the status quo when it comes to abuse. Men hit them. Men hit their children. Women, victims of abuse themselves, admit to hitting their children, also victims of abuse from their fathers, other men in their lives...

Why can't we get through to them that it doesn't have to be like this? It seems pretty obvious to me that we aren't doing enough. This is long already, and I don't mean to ramble on. I'm just frustrated that disconnect is so great, sometimes it seems like we aren't making any headway at all.
posted by misha at 1:25 PM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

One of the women was Latina and the other African-American ....... Her friend turns and starts speaking very rapidly and earnestly to her in Spanish - this is rather off topic but since you brought it up, I do want to mention that this woman that you've identified as "African-American" probably identifies as Afro-Latina or just Latina, considering she speaks Spanish. I am Latina and have both African-American women and Afro-Latina women in my family. This stuff runs beyond skin color and many Afro-Latina women do not see themselves as what you are calling African-American.
posted by primalux at 1:46 AM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

[A couple of comments deleted. Feel free to discuss the article or argue your point of view here, but complaints about the site belong in Metatalk, and complaints about another user need to be sent to moderation via the contact form. ]
posted by taz at 6:27 AM on October 6, 2014

Thanks for the heads-up, primalux, I wasn't aware that Afro-Latina was a preferred distinction (and probably should be given that I worked with the census, and one of the things we tracked was how people self-identify culturally). Of course, a lot of us speak at least a little Spanish here in Florida, including me, though my own Spanish is pretty rusty since moving to this coast and away from the center of Cuban heritage near where I grew up.

I know my descriptions were hardly subtle or respectful of the complexities of cultural heritage, though, and I'm sorry if I gave offense. I really don't like using visible characteristics to describe people at all, to be honest, and struggled with how to do that in my anecdote. Normally I wouldn't feel it was necessary to indicate anyone's race at all.

I only brought it up because it was relevant to this thread and to the frustration I felt, when I started volunteering soon after as a result, that the people who needed it most rarely got help. After all this time, I still worry our outreach to women of color is just not cutting it, you know?

Of course there are other factors. Alcohol and drug abuse often feed into a culture of domestic abuse as well. And young women of every race and socioeconomic level are especially vulnerable, and that's not, as people often assume, something that goes away with greater education. I don't want to get too detailed into her situation, but there's one young woman, for example, who keeps getting pulled back into life with her abuser because she's an addict and won't walk away from their mutual friends (who supply them both with drugs). She has a supportive family but her abuser uses her addiction to manipulate her away from them and back to him, in a cycle predictable to everyone but her. And she's a college graduate, and a very typical example of the women we see being abused today.
posted by misha at 5:38 PM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Years later, White recalled that she was “shocked” when Judge Howard went far beyond the 10-year sentence she had offered. Still, White said she feels that 45 years is plenty fair. Lindley, she said, watched Turner “torture” her only son, “and then she got in her car with her friend to get hair products.” White said, “She deserved what she got.”

White did not initially remember that her office had viewed Lindley as a victim, having charged Turner with assaulting her on the day he killed Titches. She acknowledged that many see child abuse and domestic violence as linked, and she said that in many of the cases she sees, the perpetrator has committed both. But, she said, she runs the child abuse division of the Dallas County Prosecutor’s Office, and a separate division handles domestic violence. “Why women stay, and that — I can’t speak to that; I have no expertise in that,” she said. Her division focuses on “only the children.”
The legal short-sightedness that appears over and over in this story is appalling. Thanks for posting it, desjardins.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:38 AM on October 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

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