Victims Rights: Better Late Than Never

I have worked very hard at drawing attention to the systemic failures of  response to sexual assault and domestic violence by law enforcement.  These past five years have shown me how racism and homophobia fit into the predictable pattern of ignoring an oppressed group by blaming and shaming them. I began my advocacy as an angry activist who shouted “Why don’t you just do your damn jobs?” However, I soon learned that the road to change was facing five distinct problems:

  1. The huge level of both ignorance and bias out there in the general population.
  2. The lack of incentive (from above) to do things differently.
  3. The inadequate training and resource allocations within departments.
  4. The unprofessional behavior justified by “protecting the brotherhood.”
  5. The district attorneys’ prime focus: it all comes down to profits and costs.

One of the most frustrating refrains I heard from short-term advocates was, “nobody cares, not even the victims or survivors.” My response: Well I’m not going to give up on them because I believe change IS possible! I believe that change is now imminent with the following announcement by the US Department of Justice on December 15th.

Justice Department Issues Guidance on Identifying and Preventing Gender Bias in Law Enforcement Response to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

A press conference was also held that same day, and I have included the transcript for those who missed it.

Unofficial Transcript Identifying and Preventing Gender Bias in Law Enforcement Response to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

It is ironic that change comes during one of the most volatile periods in USA history in light of the attention spent on police brutality and the reprise of racist crimes. I hope our people will soon open their eyes to the antecedents of these issues. It has nothing to do with having a victim mentality or feeling entitled to special treatment. It is about justice, freedom and peace for all of us.

Bullying, Domestic Violence, Stalking and Street Harassment

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Bullying, Domestic Violence, Stalking and Street Harassment – are they really so different?

We constantly pussy-foot around these issues by making excuses, and either compartmentalizing or minimizing toxic behaviors. It should not be this difficult for a society to recognize HARASSMENT, which is how it usually starts. After it escalates or continues over a period of time, it has evolved into ASSAULT.

It’s as simple as that!

Political Activism – Hate is at the Root of Community Violence

Please forgive my absence from this blog lately, and know that I have been extremely busy on the political activism front these days. We are witnessing exciting events, both encouraging and fearful, as the world is realizing that hate is at the root of all kinds of community violence – racially motivated, gender-based, and related to sexual orientation. Really, it is becoming evident that as in ancient times, people continue to form tribes based on similarities, and they exclude those who are different or do not conform to the tribes’ norms. Feeling threatened by the perceived infiltration of different ones, they are quick to ostracize and condemn the eccentric ones. In other words, they justify hateful behaviors against anyone who is different as a means of protecting the core tribe. Digital globalization has shattered our ability to remain in secluded tribes, and we must either adjust to the reality of diversity, or we will find ourselves having the similar fate of ancient tribes…

I do also want to mention a couple of interesting points on the domestic violence front. First, in regards to the Ray Rice dismissal of charges, please see my thoughts on the Tumblr blog:

Second, NBC is looking for survivors for an upcoming special. The details are on the Facebook page:

Thanks for supporting our cause. It reminds me how each of our individual lives do matter, and how strong a force we are when we join together!

Blessings,

Tammy

Your Lives Matter – Refuse All Forms of Oppression

People are posting on social media with the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, but doesn’t the message apply to victims of domestic violence and stalking too? Personally, I decided not to have any other children due to the ordeal inflicted upon myself and my daughter. Was that really my choice, or was it a necessary sacrifice based upon oppression? Race and Gender are often used as weapons by abusers and oppressors. The goal is the same: to enact power and control over another human being. The Ferguson issue is not only about race, but also about basic human rights (due process, life, liberty).

Sometimes oppression is generated from fear, or feeling dis-empowered. The police are supposed to serve and protect the population. Lately they are shooting first, and asking questions later. Ask any crime victim if the police are doing their jobs adequately, and you will be told no. Law enforcement needs appropriate training and support to do a good job. They are not getting it.

In short, the cycle of violence is not just an individual phenomenon. It occurs at the institutional level as well. When it does, it becomes oppression. Nobody wins when a system is corrupt and broken.

No, The Suffering Isn’t Over For Us Yet

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I struggled with putting this out in a public forum, yet I think it is important to validate my family’s feelings during a tragic ending to a terrible ordeal. My sister’s ex-husband committed suicide Friday morning. He had stalked her and my Niece for several years. Nobody believed he was really dead at first, because he has both threatened and faked his suicide in the past. His ex-girlfriend notified my 17 year old Niece of his passing in a text message.

His Facebook is full of condolences from people who barely knew him, or only knew his side of the story. Most of them have no idea what he put our family through. Thankfully, my Niece has family and friends who love and support her; those who are well-aware of the trauma he caused her and her Mother. We are relieved that the nightmare is over, yet saddened by the pain she is suffering because of his actions. We are angry at the foolish people who are now praising him as a great guy – the same people who did nothing to intervene. Many of these buddies were the ones who played an active part in his addictions.

A single Mother and baby were brutally slain just a few blocks away from their home right after my ex-brother-in-law began stalking his family. I heard about it on the radio news while driving to work, and immediately thought it was them. This was just the first of many, many terrifying incidents that my family experienced. I started Human Rights Vs. Stalkers because of the suffering my sister and niece endured at their abuser’s hands. It was the only way I could do something to keep my feelings of powerlessness at bay.

My Niece has struggled with loving vs. hating her Father, and had terminated telephone contact with him several months ago. He chose not to attend supervised visits with her during these past five years. After he publicly humiliated her on his Facebook and she found out about it, she announced on her own account that she wished he would die; words spoken in haste by a young girl who was tired of being controlled and shamed instead of loved. She had just recently changed her mind, and was trying to contact him and her Grandfather over the past few weeks. Neither would answer, nor return her calls. Now it is too late, and she is absolutely devastated.

Nobody can possibly understand the terror our family, including my elderly parents have felt during this time. We have all been taunted, degraded, and threatened. It did not have to end this way, but it did because of the choices HE made. He is not some lonely, unloved martyr whose family abruptly abandoned him for no reason. Opportunities for him to grow and change were available at every stage of his life. We all did our best to help him during the 17 year marriage to my sister, but he did not want anybody’s help.

His “friends,” who are so stunned at this outcome, could have acted like real friends, and encouraged him to stop making excuses for his poor behavior, or to get some mental help, instead of helping him to hide his secrets. His law enforcement colleagues could have set him straight by holding him accountable for his actions, and confronting him with the truth, instead of encouraging his delusions. His family could have opened their eyes to the abuse he was inflicting, instead of enabling it. They could have tried to protect my Niece and her Mother.

My Niece’s first words to me after she found out were, “I don’t know if I should feel glad or sad after all he put Me and Mom through, but I miss him so much.” She is going to suffer from his abuses for years to come. Her half-siblings were not even mentioned in the obituary; one of whom she never met, and has only learned existed after her parents’ divorce. Today my Niece is trying to access her Father’s Facebook to put her own message of grief on it. She deserves to have her voice heard. She also wants to retrieve a few recent pictures of him from his page. Unfortunately, he had blocked her from viewing it, so this is proving to be difficult.

My sister told me people are saying to her that they are unsure whether to offer condolences or congratulations. Her Ex-Father-in-Law finally spoke to my Niece yesterday. Being a staunch Baptist man, he wanted to know if her Mom was still single. He, as many others did, has judged her for the heart wrenching decision she made to leave the abuse. Many other busybodies now want the latest updates on her side of the story. The truth is, my sister refuses to feel guilty for the suicide, because she did nothing to contribute to it. Our entire family is feeling many mixed emotions: relief, sadness, anger…just to name a few. We would like to finally have some peace and we deserve to be heard too.

Would You Ever Kill Your Kids?

PD: We didn’t knowfamily tried to hospitalize mom who drove van filled with children intoocean | Volusia County News – WESH Home.

This story has been quite popular in the news lately, and most people have been outraged at what this mother did. Having been in Daytona Beach that week, I saw the local headlines firsthand. I continue to watch as mass media adds new “tidbits” to further vilify the “demon woman” who “walked away” as the van sank. As usual, people submit to a “pack mentality,” and follow along with those in front of them.

Yes, what she did was horrific. Of course, she is in a state of psychosis. Have you ever been in that state of mind? I was, once upon a time…but I accepted the help offered to me, and was able to regain stability. I’d make an educated guess that some of our readers have also experienced this; maybe after fleeing the abuse of a dangerous predator, while running from roadblock after roadblock along the way. Did any of you feel the slightest twinge of sympathy for the woman in the story? I did.

Most likely, this mother will be found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity. Her children will be placed with her abuser, but I doubt she will be allowed to remain in contact with them. It will be seared into there minds that they are the offspring of an evil, cold-hearted monster, the same one who tried to murder them. Their lives and that of their future children will be damaged.

People will continue talking about how they would never, ever do such a cruel thing to THEIR kids. Would they? The child abuse statistics tell us that many of these upright citizens will indeed abuse, or even kill their own children.  Like the demon mother, they will loose “control,” although they too were offered assistance in dealing with their problems.

Instead of self-righteous anger at this mother, what we should be feeling is an intense sense of sadness for these children. Their childhood has been torn to pieces, and they have lost a mother whom they likely loved. How could we have responded differently to their emotional distress, and how can we protect them now? What can we do to prevent future tragedies from occurring?

Because these kind of things don’t just “happen to “scumbags,” and none of us is immune to allowing evil thoughts inside our heads. The monsters, the pedophiles and the crackheads aren’t born that way. They are prodded and coached by a society that has no value for their families or their neighbors, particularly if they happen to be children.