Domestic Violence and Human Rights: Jessica Lenahan v. the United States of America

Domestic Violence and Human Rights: Jessica Lenahan v. the United States of America

Did you know that police are not required to enforce an “official” order of protection? And when they do attempt to do so, the charges against the accused are usually dropped. Victims know this. Perpetrators know it too. As a matter of fact, the USA is in violation of international human rights law on this issue. Just ask Jessica Lenahan, because she took it to the highest court in the entire world. To this day, reparations have not been made to her or any other victims in spite of the international court’s judgement.

What can we do about that?

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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.

What about this type of assault?

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I have always believed that emotional trauma IS also physical trauma. It has similar long-term effects to physical trauma. It really is an assault upon the entire nervous system. Most survivors have experienced polytrauma, and it would be nice to see courts begin to use the data that backs up the long-term effects of abuse during deliberations and sentencing.

What are your thoughts about this?

The Roots of Misogyny

ImageThere is a marked increase in worldwide violence against women. We see it in India, and Syria, and in the USA.  Why are we seeing so much gender-based violence? The term “misogyny” can be defined as either the hatred of the female gender, or as a patriarchal construct that views the female gender as having less value than the male gender.  

Many women, and some men, believe misogyny is the root cause of violence against women.  Most men, and some women, disagree with this view.  They believe men have been getting a “bad rap” for decades, thanks to the women’s rights movement.  They argue that women can be just as abusive as men.  They are quick to blame sensationalism in the media for the vilification of men as the primary aggressors.  Citing the “militant feminist movement” as an anti-male conspiracy, some men are fighting back by forming a “men’s rights movement.”

They attack their female counterparts by using undermining tactics such as attempting to discredit peer-reviewed research on gender-based violence, and disseminating false research designed to prove that men are the primary victims at the hands of female abusers.  They encourage members to troll on women’s social media sites to scare women away, or to “infiltrate” women’s online communities by creating fake domestic violence support pages.  The goal is to trick women, making them feel harrassed or threatened by female peers, and turning them off from the “craziness” of purveyors of women’s rights ideology.  Their leaders encourage and justify the use of these strategies as a necessary means for the preservation of the male species.

Conversley, several men’s groups have begun their own movement to reinvent positive masculinity.  They share in the perception of the women’s rights movement, pointing out the fact that gender-based stereotypes are oppressive to BOTH sexes.  They point out the dysfunction of aggressive behavior in society, preferring to trade it with a more rational, logical means of co-existence.  Parenthood is one of the bonds that brings these men together.  They don’t intend to be a passive influence in the lives of their children; rather, they want to invest ample time, and share equally in the parenting responsibilities alongside their partners. 

We are a culture with an identity crisis caused by the major shifting of institutional structures including family construct, educational objectives, and the collapse of religion, in coordination with current political and economic instability.  The central theme guiding all social movements is a perceived sense of disempowerment.  We rise up for change to preserve a way of life after being left without enough adequate options.  The issue quickly turns from self-preservation to fighting against the perceived enemy.

The men’s rights and women’s rights movements will not find solutions to their problems by beating eachother down.  Likewise, adding insult to injury is counterproductive.  As we struggle to find the balance, we must act with respect and dignity for the entire human race.  We are sure to find that there is no dominant gender; without one, we simply cannot have the other.  The correct answers; however, lay within our ability to empathize and reason with others as we navigate the paths before us.