Saturday, September 13, 2014

October: Domestic Violence Awareness Month

I hate political correctness, the freedoms it seeks to corral,  and the "months" designated for this or that.  Yet, even a broken watch is right, twice a day, and designating a month to raise awareness of Domestic Violence (D/V) sits well with me.

Susan Murphy Milano became a mentor, of sorts, for my work in helping (more than just advocating) for victims of D/V.

Susan was amphetamines on steroids rolled up into a super pit bull of energy all at once.  Her bite was worse than her bark.  People loved her or hated her, and those that hated her, respected her.  If a "spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down", Susan had no time to stop off at the grocery store.  She moved at the speed of sound, and then some.  How cancer ever defeated her can only be explained by faith, as cancer, itself, should have feared Susan, as God knows, I did.  Yet it must have been that Christ, Himself, said, 'I will be without Susan no longer' and summoned His dedicated messengers to yield her to Himself.

Susan fought the good fight.

Her last phone call  haunts me still.

Working two jobs, raising a family, and donating time to D/V victims and Missing Persons cases, I knew that Susan wrongfully thought that everyone else had her ability to jump through hoops without hesitation, sleep, or thought.  She needed me to:

a.  Keep my full time investigatory job;
b.  Keep my Statement Analysis jobs, including trainings
c.  Fly to Chicago to help film a pilot episode for A&E
d.  Go over "20/20" scripts
e.  Edit her new book.  (I did so, bawling my eyes out at each chapter)
f.  and, oh, by the way, discern if so and so is lying to her.  She knows he is, but she wants to make sure.  (Susan was intuitively good at lie detection but could not sit still long enough for formal training.  She should have taught it, instead).
g.  Be on the Dr. Roth Show, another show, and still another...

She needed all of this done, one hour ago, yesterday.

Then, there was this woman she knows, who's boyfriend had blackened her eyes, and I needed to...

This was her dedication to victims of 'intimate partner violence', as she called it.  The entire world was to stop to help a single victim plot her course of safety, and nothing was more important to Susan than the practical preparation for the victim. "Peter, she needs help now!"

Susan did not "protest" Domestic Violence, as if walking around in circles, carrying a sign saying, "We are against Domestic Violence" while people across the street walked in circles, carried signs that said, "We are for Domestic Violence" benefited anyone but a politician.  She knew too much.

She was too sophisticated to buy into any political clap-trap that sounded like protection, but really only profited the politician who sought some nice publicity before women.  "There oughta be a law!" somehow would benefit lawyers, and not women in need.


Susan was too busy getting the victim to find her birth certificate, medical records, toiletries, and other practicalities, to busy herself with self-seeking nonsense.

Victims of Domestic Violence generally do not live in day to day violence.

It isn't necessary.

Once violence occurs, the vicim soon learns how to avoid violence by walking on eggshells, and keeping the controlling abuser satisfied.

She learns to read his face and his body language, as necessity compels her instincts into overdrive.

Susan could spot that look on a woman's face and know.  She knew.

I learned more from her than I wish I had, for, as Solomon said, 'with much knowledge comes much sadness.'  As a husband and father of two daughters, the thought of a man putting his hands on either could drive me to violence.  I was raised with 7 sisters, all successful professionals, and was taught how unmanly it was to ever use my strength against them.  I know this is not taught in schools today, as we are all "equal protoplasmic explosions", but the honoring of women and the use of strength to protect, not harm, is so sorely missed today.  My son in ice hockey will not hit a female, no matter the consequence.  It was wrong in my grandfather's day, my father's day, my day, and in my son's day.  It is the sacrifice of strength that character is seen, not its expenditure upon one who trusts will be loved and cherished.

The betrayal that a victim feels, experiencing violence, in the very place where safety is supposed to dwell, and by the very man of whom her heart has trusted in, is physically and psychologically traumatic, with consequences ranging from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, down to suppressed immune systems and wonderful women succumbing to diseases that perhaps, just perhaps, they might have been able to fight off had their immune systems not been taxed by sexual abuse or violence.

Only God knows. Maybe He will allow science to discover what these "ghosts from the nursery" do to our loved ones, even in childhood.

"I woke up, got dressed, brushed my teeth, and went to work..."

This was from a theft investigation, years ago.  I noted from the brilliant teaching of Avinoam Sapir that when personal hygiene enters a statement, it is a signal of concealed information, often of a personal nature, which may be related to Domestic Violence.

Why is this?

It is this way because few people (less than 10%) feel it necessary to tell us, in a written statement, that she brushed her teeth.  We all brush our teeth.  (I like to believe this when I stand close to someone at work).  Few of us feel the need to add it to our statements, even verbally when discussing our day's progress.

For the victim of Domestic Violence, life is out of control, living hour by hour on eggshells, carefully navigating the temper tantrums of the abuser, who does not need to be violent to control her.

Her life is not her own.  It is his.

The feeling of losing control sets off a panic button in all of us, which is often seen in the surrendered shoulders of someone in handcuffs, especially shortly after a struggle.  He is defeated. He cannot raise his arms to his face to protect his face, to cover his shame, or to even cover his tears.  He is utterly without control of his arms (which is why some then use their feet to fight).

For the victim of Domestic Violence, her life is so out of control, that when she enters the bathroom and locks that door even for a few minutes, she feels control.  It is a significant part of her day, therefore, it enters her language.  In the above case, the victim did not steal, but had knowledge of theft:  her boyfriend who interrupted the interview, shirtless, to give me the overcompensating handshake of a cowardly bully who fears his loss of control.

Even just the raising of awareness in the month of October helps.

Susan is no longer with us.

Some may feel that this is something that does not need to be said, but I think otherwise.  I feel her presence, through her words and work, and must remind myself that while I am at my desk, feeling overwhelmed with too much work, the phone is not going to ring and I am not going to be ripped into by her for not calling her back immediately.

God, how I miss that.

What Susan stood for, and did so in a loud, boisterous way, was planning.  Detailed planning goes far beyond holding a woman's hand and saying, "it will be alright."

No, it is not going to be alright unless we make it so.  The moment that she eludes the control of the abuser, the clock ticks.  The next 24 to 48 hours is when the domestic homicide is at its peak.

"See ya, Babe!" wrote one man who killed his girlfriend, in an email to her, after her death, thinking that it would be helpful as an alibi.


In fact, as he recalled their "fun" day together, the phrase, "See ya', Babe!" pinpointed her time of death.  I told the reporter that it would match the coroner's report and it was highly likely that these are the last words the victim heard before he pulled the trigger.

We raise awareness and, true enough, it is lessening the fake "shame" some women feel, especially those who, as expected, walked in denial, attempted to "win" him back, blamed that "b****" of an ex wife, and made 101 excuses for him.

Yet, overcoming the instinct to nurture, heal and love, she can, and must, get free.

Careful planning is the key.

Awareness is helping, but advocacy must not stop with the Restraining Order.

It continues with careful planning, confidentiality, financial support, and, when necessary, protection in the dangerous days and weeks after.

Susan gave up on no one.  No victim's denial could wear her down.

She, being dead, speaks to us today, as we seek to continue to carry the torch.

No need to search for heroes in our world, nor among the departed.  They are living among us, infirmities and failures abounding, yet overcoming, and helping others regain the dignity they were born with.


Sus said...

I thought of Susan the other day while reading an article on Ray Rice and the comments that followed it. I thought Susan would get that it's violence, a vicious attack on another human being. Susan would get that it makes it no less okay to punch someone out and drag them unconscious out of an elevator simply because she's your fiancé. Susan would get Ray Rice should be prosecuted for assault and battery, the same as if he'd punched a stranger.

Peter, your stand in teaching your son to honor women is admirable. Yet, there is something inherent in it, in that it teaches one group, or class, is weaker because of physical strength. There are many types of strengths...physical endurance, inner peace, humility, intelligence... Just to name a few. Women as a group are not weaker. Why not teach instead, to never use your physical strength against ANYONE weaker. Then you're not creating the idea of a weaker class to be protected, and in some minds subjected to your superior strength.

I hope that made sense.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Peter. Thank you.


Trigger said...

Great post, Peter.

rkg said...

I've been there. I know all of it. Every word you said is exactly true. Thank you for being a voice.

Statement Analysis Blog said...

Women are the weaker sex.

We do not establish principle on exception.

Masculinity's call to sacrifice strength to honor the weaker sex is at the heart of all of this.

Perhaps a class action suit filed on behalf of women, against the NFL will introduce a quota system, forcing an end to the NFL's discrimination against women.


Anonymous said...

While this article is true and it is admirable of Peter to take the stance he has, as well as others who support domestic non-violence against women; here are two more (pertinent?) points of view:

1) Wrongly. It was said for years; never get involved in domestic disputes involving the claimed abuse of a wife, even where there's proof. She will take her husbands' side every time and turn against you for trying to help her. Proof; didn't this just happen in the Ray Rice incident?

Sadly, so enamored and supportive of him was she that she even went on to marry the beast. So, they had a child together, she didn't have to marry him. She would have still gained a nice chunk of support for herself and her son without marrying him. The proof was in the pudding, she ALLOWED (AND defends) his abuse and continues too in supporting him.

2) How does the abused MAN stop the woman from physically attacking and beating on him without him eventually turning on her and knocking the hell out of her no matter how hard he has tried to restrain himself? How much is a man supposed to take?

I know a case where the new wife, being drunk, beat her husband on their wedding night. She was 5'4", weighed 110#s and he was 6'3" and weighed 260#s. For the next five weeks she attacked and badly beat him about the head, neck and chest three more times, but on the last time (#4) without him previously raising a hand to her once; he could take it no longer and knocked the living day lights out of her just to get her off of him, but also giving her a black eye. He could have snapped her scrawny neck with one punch.

She had him arrested charging him with domestic abuse. Obviously the short marriage was over, but today he has a DV charge against him for the rest of his life with no way of having it expunged. The court ignored her prior beatings on him and found no excuse for him finally retaliating to stop her. Domestic violence can
go both ways, but where's the courts' protection for the abused man?

Doubtful said...

I seriously doubt the 6'3, 260# man had no other options than to knock the living day lights out of his wife and give her a black eye. Talk about an abuse apologists - are you for real?!?

Anonymous said...

Plus...(still worked up about the misogyny).

As technology advances and we evolve as a people doesn't the need for brute strength recede?

We don't work our fields, mine, or toil as we did earlier in mankind's history.

Over time, our bodies will change and no longer be the muscle containers they are today.

It doesn't take much strength to fly jets, drop bombs, or steer a tractor.

I say mental strength is much more the factor today.

My invitation to arm wrestle is still open.


Anonymous said...

It's irrelevant what you believe or don't believe, Doubtful @ 11:40. This is exactly what happened. I know, I was there.

Damned right I'm for real. I would further say; good for him, he finally got the nasty b'tch off his back' only it cost him a DV charge for the rest of his life. Too bad she didn't get the same charge. Just, thank goodness he had better sense than to go back for more after the 4th time she beat him.

You're pretty ignorant (AND stupid) if you don't think there are women out there who beat men who have to live with it every day of their lives. Duh... Many stay and take their abuse due to having children they love and don't want to leave, (maybe they are being abused by the wife/mother too and he is their only love and hope), financial difficulties, keeping the family together for stability, embarrassment and a host of other reasons.

They've got my full support when they finally stand up for themselves! If he can't stop her any other way and it takes finally knocking the hell out of her, good for him. Long overdue.

Anonymous said...

Oh Susie... Give it a rest. We are obviously weaker physically than the average man. X-Rays and MRIs will prove this. Common sense woman; we don't call four girlfriends to lift a railroad tie, we call two men.

Anonymous said...

"Wow. Don't know what went wrong there but it did. Somehow. Sorry."

Hardly a reliable denial, pumpkin.

Anonymous said...

As a woman I find it fascinating how upset other women get at a simple statement of fact. Peter did not say women were less intelligent or some how less important than men. The article clearly displays his admiration for Susan as a professional with unending energy. He said women are the weaker sex which is (with a few exceptions) simply a statement of fact. Why is that a bad thing? Why must women get so work up over simple facts of biology? I can have a baby which no man can do. Being physically weaker does not make women less, it makes them biologically different but equally necessary for the human race to survive.

Anonymous said...

Women are the weaker sex

I am a woman and I agree.

Men don't need to control the women who love them.
Violent men know that they have the upper hand when it comes to women and children.

Anonymous said...

Lillian Glass has an interesting and excellent article on her blog site delineating the abuses perpetrated by Ray Rice and the interview given by both Ray and the browbeating of his wife.

I agree with her wholeheartedly, and of course, he needs to be locked up, but there's only one question: Why did she go on to marry the freak when he had already been abusing her prior to the most recent incident?

No woman in her right mind marries a man who beats up on her but she did. WHY? No one held a gun to her head and forced her too, did they? They BOTH need serious psychological counseling for a very long time.

John Mc Gowan said...


September 15, 2014 at 8:18 AM

Well put. :-)

Anonymous said...

She married him because HALF!! HALF his worth is now hers when they inevitably divorce, and she likely used her leverage in the abuse situation to marry with no pre-nup.

Anonymous said...

What leverage? She took the risk of eventually winding up in a vegetative state or losing her life from one of his beatings when she married this freak after he had already been violently abusing her. Because she had a child with him? No amount of money is worth losing your life or your childs' life for financial gain.

She ran the risk of her child also being abused by this ox of a beast, when it has been proved that a man who will physically abuse a woman will also abuse his child? She was and is stupid. Maybe one of his head slams gave her some brain damage, making her unable to think clearly. That would be most unfortunate but not unheard of.

Was it worth it? Now it appears that he could wind up with all of his contracts cancelled and them all sitting on the curb broke and homeless. Time will tell.

Anonymous said...

Video: 17 year old Sophia Putney-Wilcox from her hospital bed, Speaks of her relationship with "Adam"

Teenager ( Sophia ) talks about her abusive ex-boyfriend: 'I think deep down I always knew that something was wrong' Sophia Putney-Wilcox is recovering from injuries suffered when, according to police, her ex-boyfriend, Adam Shigwadja, broke into her home, assaulted her and set her room on fire Monday night.

Shigwadja, 18, was arrested Tuesday and police are seeking charges of attempted murder, arson, home invasion, unlawful imprisonment and violation of conditional bond

*Adam Shigwadja had attempted to commit bodily harm (death?) upon Sophia once before.

According to Kalamazoo County Circuit Court records, Putney-Wilcox and her mother filed a request for a personal-protection order against Shigwadja on Feb. 21, 2013 after he broke into their apartment and put a knife to the throat of Putney-Wilcox, who at the time was 16 years old.

The incident, according to the PPO request, came two days after the couple broke up, ending a 17-month relationship.

Circuit Judge Alexander C. Lipsey denied Putney-Wilcox's request for the PPO the same day she filed it.

Sophia Putney-Wilcox's petition *Denied* No PPO for you. This a direct message sent to Adam, please continue, the Law doesn't take you/your acts seriously. Try harder next time. He was paying attention.

Anonymous said...

You know of a case or you were there? Obviously talking about yourself and clearly hate women. Glad you have a DV conviction. Liar.