I see a lot of hurt people.  People hurt physically, emotionally, financially.   So much strife in the world, to the point that I don’t watch news on TV and only read the local paper looking for the names of the bad guys I deal with day in and day out.

It’s easy to ignore outside strife.  If it’s out there and I’m not paying attention to it I can easily not pay attention to it.   If someone tries to shove it in my face on Facebook I can stop following them (and I’ve done that before with some politically extreme friends).   But when it’s in your own home or in your family, it’s kind of hard to ignore and even harder when there’s not a thing you can do fix it.

Most of the time I’m pretty much in control of what happens in my life.   My life is what I make it, my emotions are my own and I am pretty good at not letting others push buttons that will generate an extreme reactions.  I think I’m pretty good about owning up to my faults and mistakes, and I have made some doozies.  I’m really good at forgetting the past and letting things go.  I pick my battles and try to stay out of stuff that is none of my business (though I may have an opinion or two if asked).    I’ve kept my mouth shut when unwarranted blame has been put upon me and try really hard not to go on the

I think so much of the strife we encounter is caused by people simply not accepting responsibility for their own actions.   I see that day in and day out.   Someone does something bad to someone and blames it on the victim.

If she had only kept her mouth shut I wouldn’t have had to hit her! She disrespected me!

Really?   I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard that one along with, “It’s her fault I went to jail, she called the police”.   I tend to look at the talker with an incredulous look on my face and walk away.   People that refuse to accept responsibility for their actions, who claim that they are the victims, are generally way too self-centered to realize just how idiotic they sound.

Unfortunately when it’s happening in your own family it’s almost impossible to walk away and forget it.   It’s always there because the family members are always there.  There is no strife in my life, I tend to walk away from the drama queens and emotional vampires that sneak their way in sometimes.  There is a tremendous amount of strife in some of my family member’s lives and that hurts.    I’m so sad.   I wish there was a way to fix it.  I wish some people would accept responsibility for their actions and show true contrition.  I wish some would just be honest with themselves instead of putting the blame on others.  I wish that some would just “man up” (what a horribly sexist thing to say!).



Domestic Violence and the LGBT Community

For the second time within a week I’ve dealt with a gay male domestic violence case.   Over the past few years there have only been a handful that I can remember of both gay and lesbian partners involved with the court system.

In all of the male partner incidences there was alcohol involved.   In all the cases the victims, (according to the police reports), took the blame for the incident and told me that it was their fault, they were drunk, they hit first, they instigated the violence.   In all of the cases the files were closed except for one where both, who had been arrested were sent to anger management and then dismissed.

I have a hard time believing that, like the victims told me, it was only a case of drunken stupidity.  Domestic violence is alive and well in the GLBT community and even a brief search of the web will show a lot of resources and information.

Today I found myself in a quandary.  Some of the prosecutors I work with rely on me to make a recommendation and I’ve found it really hard to decide who is telling the truth, or if the victim is minimizing, or even who the victim really is.   I try to explain the cycle of violence, the fact that DV is about power and control, the indicators of domestic violence.  I’m also reminded that I live in the deep south where the GLBT community is not out in the open, not accepted and still discriminated against.  The couples I deal with are trying to protect themselves and my fear is that someone in the relationship really is a victim, and is not getting the help they need.   I am the victims advocate and I have to weigh carefully their wishes against the possibility of adding to their victimization.

I found an interesting article called “Introduction to Gay Male Domestic Violence” which perfectly described the situation I find myself in when dealing with gay male cases in the court:

A further example of the risks of being out occur when a victim has resorted to some violence to defend themselves. Merrill (1998) reported that 58% of gay males who had been victimized fought back. The police and courts are less likely to take the time to figure out who is the abuser and who is the victim, and more likely to simply assume the violence is “mutual combat” rather than abuse. Thus, the batterer may actually threaten to call the police himself, claim the victim is the abuser, and press charges against the victim. The victim could then be listed as an abuser with the county or city hall, and be further victimized.

I don’t know if I did the right thing today, I can only hope that I will never see those young men again in the courtroom and that it truly was just an isolated, alcohol induced incident.   I hope that if there is any kind of violence in the relationship the victim seeks help.  No one deserves to be abused.

Mental Illness and DV

I can’t tell you how many people I see in court, both victims and defendants arrested for domestic violence that suffer from some sort of mental illness, drug or alcohol problems.  I’m not saying that because someone suffers from one of these that they can not be victims or perpetrators of Domestic Violence, or that they are an excuse or the cause of the violence.   The thing is, if someone is suffering from a serious problem just sending them to an Anger Management or a Batterers Program is not going to fix the problem.   They need to get help for their underlying issue first.

Twice now in the past two weeks I’ve had female defendants arrested for domestic disturbance of the peace.   In both cases there was a serious underlying mental illness issue that needed medical treatment.   In both cases the prosecutor immediately said that they both should attend anger management.   In both cases the outbursts happened because the women were on the wrong medications.  It wasn’t an anger issue, it was a medication issue.   Perhaps, just perhaps these one time, freaky incidents would never happen again if they were sent to get their meds straight and get some mental health therapy.    People like this need compassion and understanding, sometimes they need to be forced to get medical help, and the courts can help with that by making a condition of their plea agreement.

Abusers choose to behave violently to get what they want and gain control. Their behaviour often originates from a sense of entitlement which is often supported by sexist, racist, homophobic and other discriminatory attitudes.

People with medication issues do not choose to behave violently, it just happens and they need our support and help to fix it.  You can’t fix a bad back by sending someone to a dentist!