Domestic violence


 

Chicago Sun-Times, Saturday, February 20, 2010.

Domestic violence is a serious problem in many households. Law enforcement and public servants are required to report all incidents of domestic violence regardless of the victim’s wishes or fears. For example, if a woman is physically abused by a man, she should report the violence to the police in order to prevent future abuse. If the neighbors suspect that a woman is being beaten because of loud pounding sounds and her cries for help, they should call the police. If the police arrive and suspect that there was any physical violence involved, by either party, they must act to stop the violence. If the police observe any physical injury, they must investigate and determine the cause and perpetrator, and arrest the offender for domestic violence. If the victim refuses to press charges, the police must still arrest the offender if they suspect that the victim is in fear for her safety once the police leave. The police have the authority to make an arrest based on the physical evidence they observe for the safety of the victim. In the past, such incidents of domestic violence have resulted in death when the police did not act appropriately. In fact, most domestic violence calls are investigated very thoroughly by police to prevent further violence. And all public servants–police officers, paramedics, teachers, social workers, etc.–are required to report domestic violence.

When Tiger Woods had his “traffic accident” last Thanksgiving Day, I’m sure that police officers and paramedics across the country immediately suspected domestic violence based on their own personal experiences dealing with domestic violence on the job. This was a most unusual traffic accident. The timing was also suspect. On Thanksgiving Day everyone is supposed to spend time together as a family. But Tiger was driving at 2:30 AM. No one ever mentioned whether his home was his destination or his point of departure. Regardless of direction of travel, if you’re coming home or leaving home at 2:30 AM on Thanksgiving Day, you’re asking for trouble. And, why was Tiger laying on the ground unconscious and barefoot. Who drives barefoot at 2:30 AM?  How fortuitous that his wife Elin was there where his Cadillac crashed and at the precise moment that he needed help. Luckily, she had the foresight to bring a golf club with her to rescue Tiger from his metallic coffin. She broke a window to get him out. But why where there two broken windows?

Also suspect was Tiger’s cooperation with the police investigation. Why didn’t he just meet the police investigators immediately upon being released from the hospital? Why did he avoid the police and have his attorney present Tiger’s driver’s license and vehicle documents to the police. I’m sure the police would have noticed whether or not Tiger’s injuries were consistent with a minor crash in which the air bag did not deploy. Without physical evidence, domestic violence cannot be proved. Was he protecting Elin? Was he ashamed to admit that he was a domestic battery victim? Was he protecting himself from future violence by not accusing her? Well, in reality, male domestic battery victims are never taken as seriously as the allegations by a female victim.

Imagine if Elin was lying unconscious and barefoot under the same circumstances with Tiger standing over her holding a golf club. The paramedics show up and immediately suspect domestic violence. Elin appears to be the victim, so the police are called. Tiger is immediately arrested for domestic battery. All the evidence–whether circumstantial or not–points to domestic violence. The authorities would rather err on the side of safety rather than risk seeing the victim suffer more violence.

Let’s be realistic. A man can be arrested merely for an allegation of domestic battery. No physical evidence is necessary. It doesn’t matter if the offender is a high-profile celebrity or not. Charlie Sheen was arrested for domestic battery based on allegations. (Of course, Sheen also has a history domestic violence.) In the past, when allegations of domestic violence weren’t taken seriously, the physical abuse escalated to abuse. So, nowadays, law enforcement errs on the side of safety. The defendant will have his day in court where the burden of proof is on the prosecution in order to prove that a crime has been committed. But if the victim is a man, no woman’s group will ensure that he gets equal treatment under domestic violence laws. Domestic violence is not about equality.

David Diego Rodríguez, Ph.D.
2
  1. Liliam

    David,
    Domestic violence has never been about equality.

    In 1993 my husband (then) had a bad day at work, came home drunk, and got his anger out on me, while I was eight and a half months pregnant of his second child. He broke my nose, and I ended up giving birth that same night ( @ UIC by the way). When the UIC social worker called the police for me to do the report, the two male officers told me “that is a family problem, you both have to work it out”. And they did nothing for me. Not even a report. That was a good reason for me to get involved and teach other people to speak up and demand some change in Chicago. Notice that I wrote “other people”, not only women.

    The problem is that men put pressure on other men to not talk about those “problems” because then they will be seen as less of a man. Nowadays guys do laundry, do dishes and some stay at home with the children… How about start being supportive to one another as well? I agree with you, but women are not the ones to be blamed for those inequalities.

    DJDAN: Wow, lack of touch and sensibility, I see you have plenty of room to grow.

    Reply
    • Dr. D.

      Liliam, I’m sorry that you had to suffer through that incident of domestic violence. My whole point is that domestic violence should always be reported by all authorities involved. Hopefully, the situation will continue to improve with more awareness.

      Reply

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