Author of Adam and Steve, a novel about reexamining your prejudices

Posts tagged ‘domestic violence’

The Two Faces of the Catholic Church

The Catholic Church has been beleaguered for a very long time, most recently in Milwaukee. For decades, victims of sexual abuse have claimed that the Church,

  • continued the employment of pedophile priests;
  • shielded them through reassignment;
  • permitted them to continue their sexually abusive behavior by failing to warn their new parishioners; and
  • protected the Church’s assets through various schemes, including, as alleged in Milwaukee, bankruptcy fraud, to prevent redress to the child victims.

Assuming the Church hierarchy is composed of holy and moral men rather than criminal co-conspirators, the Church’s response to its pedophile priests is bewildering to say the least, unless the hierarchy’s compassion is limitless. If the Church could find compassion for these “men of God” although they committed some of the more heinous crimes known to man, then surely the Church could find compassion for virtually every other situation. Unfortunately, the Church could not. See, http://nbcnews.to/12DEn67, http://bit.ly/15JPnVi, http://bit.ly/10Y0ZSM, and http://huff.to/17z205m.

The Church’s compassion was conspicuously absent from its decision to place Carie Charlesworth, a second-grade teacher at San Diego’s Holy Trinity School, and her four children, students at Holy Trinity, on “indefinite leave”. In light of the Church’s history of failing to fire sexual deviants, Ms. Charlesworth must have committed unspeakable acts to merit her and her children’s expulsion. Not so.

Ms. Charlesworth is the victim of her abusive husband’s domestic violence. Although the school stated, “at no time were the students or staff threatened or did Mr. Charlesworth gain access to [the] school grounds,” when Mr. Charlesworth appeared at the school parking lot, Ms. Charlesworth, apparently unlike the pedophile priests, became a danger to the Church’s children. As a result, the school felt compelled to fire her, as explained in the school’s termination letter.

 “In the interest of the safety of the students, faculty and parents at Holy Trinity School, we simply cannot allow you to return to work here, or, unfortunately, at any other school in the Diocese.”

Seehttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/13/carie-charlesworth-teacher-fired_n_3436716.html, http://bit.ly/148FeCr, http://bit.ly/16eFAFR, and http://bit.ly/123754y.

In firing Ms. Charlesworth and expelling her children, Holy Trinity School and the Catholic Church evidenced a callous disregard for the well-being of its teacher/parishioner and her family. At the least, a compassionate employer would understand that the loss of an abused and innocent woman’s livelihood because of her husband’s criminal behavior merely compounds her and her children’s victimization. They are victimized first by the abuse itself at the hands of her husband, and then by the firing at the hands of her employer.  At the least, a compassionate employer would also understand that the loss of a job could sever the lifeline needed to end the abuse. In the case of Carie Charlesworth, the Church was not such an employer.

In protecting its children, the Church has exhibited a two-faced approach – over-zealous compassion for its pedophile priests and cold-stone lack of compassion for the innocent, though abused, teacher and her children. The Church acted wrongly through both of its faces.

Cardinal of New York, then Archbishop of Milwaukee, Timothy Dolan
Image courtesy of: http://bit.ly/12OIlKF

It’s the right time for VAWA

Although women comprise 51% of the electorate, they’ve been a strangely silent majority. That silence may have lulled some of our misogynistic politicians to ignore the cardinal rule of elective politics.  Vote against 51% of the electorate and it’s very likely you won’t remain in office. Republican Senators, at least with respect to reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), got the message. With their Democratic counterparts, they overwhelmingly passed the reauthorization sending it to the House. What the House Republicans will do is anyone’s guess. 

VAWA was comprehensive legislation enacted in 1994 to counteract the growing violence against women in our country. It provided for, among other things, the strengthening of penalties for sex offenders; training VAWA evil of police, prosecutors and judges; establishing of the National Domestic Violence Hotline; providing legal relief for battered immigrant women; and protecting Native American women who very much-needed protecting since one Native American woman in three had been a victim of sexual violence, and she had a ten times greater chance of being murdered. (http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/editorial/bs-ed-violence-women-20130213,0,3781667.story). See, http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/vawa factsheet.pdf

By everyone’s standards, VAWA was a huge success. Intimate partner violence declined by 67%; homicides of females decreased by 35%; reporting of domestic violence significantly increased; and all states strengthened their domestic violence laws.  http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/vawa factsheet.pdf.  Notwithstanding the impressive outcomes, in 2011 VAWA expired and Congress, as it has with other much-needed legislation, wouldn’t act in a bipartisan way to reauthorize VAWA. Conservative Republicans identified three provisions each concerning minority women that they couldn’t support.

 Women’s health and safety are at stake. Consequently, VAWA is not the legislation for Republican Congressmen to vote their prejudices. Rather, VAWA presents the perfect opportunity for them to show they care about every woman, especially since being tolerant and compassionate to battered women shouldn’t be all that difficult. As Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said “a victim is a victim is a victim – and violence is violence.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/senate-votes-to-reauthorize-violence-against-women-act/2013/02/12/ddb2487e-752c-11e2-95e4-6148e45d7adb_story.html

It’s a no-brainer. Ending violence against women should be universally supported at least in the eyes of that 51%. Republican Congressmen take note. Voting your intolerance could shorten your career immeasurably.

Domestic Violence – Remember Kasandra

English: Colin Henderson's winning design will... (Design: Colin Henderson; Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On December 1, 2012, Jovan Belcher, linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, shot Kasandra Perkins, his girlfriend and mother of his baby daughter Zoe, nine times, killing her then killing himself. Three months later, Rihanna confirmed that she and Chris Brown reconciled approximately four years after he severely beat her by, among other things, shoving her head against a car window, punching her face repeatedly, including her left eye, and biting her on her left ear. http://www.thesmokinggun.com/file/lapd-details-rihanna-beating?page=4. Both Kasandra Perkins and Rihanna are two of the approximately 1.1 million women annually who are physically assaulted, including raped and murdered, by an intimate partner. http://www.lovetakestime.com/art-domesticviolence.html. They are victims of domestic violence – “a pattern of coercive behavior that is used by one person to gain power and control over another.”  http://www.vaw.umn.edu/documents/inbriefs/domesticviolence/domesticviolence.html.

It should be inconceivable that home is not a safe haven and a loving partner is someone to be feared. Yet, that is life for those 1.1 million women and many more who keep the abuse hidden.  The abused may staunchly protect the abuser, but he often gives himself away. Although any male – no matter his education, financial wherewithal, or ethnicity – can become the perpetrators of the approximately 21,000 domestic crimes against women taking place weekly, http://www.lovetakestime.com/art-domesticviolence.html, his intimidation or threats, superior feelings, stranglehold domination, total financial control, isolation of his partner or verbal or emotional abuse are but a few of the telltale signs of the brutality lurking within.   http://www.ncadv.org/files/DomesticViolenceFactSheet(National).pdf

Once that violence erupts, the likelihood of it exploding again and again are extremely probable. The more frequent the abuse, the more severe it becomes until the abused is in mortal danger.  http://www.lovetakestime.com/art-domesticviolence.html. Sadly, there’s no longer hope for Kasandra, but there’s still hope for Rihanna and the myriads of others like her. An abusive relationship can be transformed into a safe and secure relationship, but only after hard work by both partners. They must seek professional help. She to grow in self-esteem and assertiveness, and he to accept responsibility, be held accountable, and learn new ways to cope with anger and resentment. http://www.lovetakestime.com/art-domesticviolence.html.

At the very least, Kasandra’s death should make us, the silent bystanders, more aware of the hidden abuse among us. We must recognize a cry for help and then be ready and willing to intervene promptly. Otherwise, Kasandra and so many before her will have died in vain.

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