Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Why doesn't she just leave him?

You frequently hear that question asked about women who are victims of domestic abuse. If it were really that simple, she would.

Today there was a tragically vivid example of how it's not that easy. Patricia Williams was shot to death by her husband in the parking lot of the Canton Public Library in Michigan. You can read about it here.

The woman was a Detroit police officer for 15 years. She was without a doubt far better equipped to defend herself against violence than the average woman is. And yet, she was murdered by her husband in broad daylight in a public place. It's not that easy to get away from an abusive spouse.

Why didn't she go to the police for help? Well, she had. Repeatedly. As recently as last weekend, she had reported her husband's abuse to police, yet he remained in her home and he remained armed. Why didn't her calls for help result in any protection for her?

Not only had she gone to the police, she was en route to the police when this happened. According to reports, she had left home and was on her way to the Canton police department to report another assault. Somehow he intercepted her before she made it there and murdered her.

It's not that easy to leave. Statistics show that a third of women who are murdered in the U.S. are killed by their partners. In Michigan another woman is murdered by her husband or boyfriend every 5 days.

Unfortunately, too many women who in violent situations seem to have limited choices: stay and endure the abuse, try to leave and risk having the abuse escalate, or defend herself and be labeled a criminal. There are, unfortunately, many women in our prisons for defending themselves against husbands or boyfriends who were trying to kill them. They didn't end up like Patricia Williams, but they're not much better off. This needs to stop! Our society should start treating domestic violence like the crime that it is, support the women and children who are victimized by it, and give them a viable way of escaping the violence. Then, maybe, tragedies like today's will be less common.

1 comment:

Allyson Kellner said...

It's hard. Very hard. I have a very dear friend in an abusive situation. It has been one of the most eye-opening, shocking, saddening, and faith-building experiences to watch and listen to her go through this.