There is a new bill in New York State that is intended to help prevent women from going to prison when they kill an abuser. In far too many states in our country, if a woman kills an abuser she is usually prosecuted for murder and if convicted, must face harsh mandatory jail sentences.
The bill introduced in New York will allow judges to take domestic abuse into account and allow the judge to use alternative sentencing, including probation and not jail time. That all sounds very nice. However, my question is why are these women being accused of a crime in the first place?
All across the country, women are incarcerated because they defended themselves and struck back against the aggressor. The abuser was killed, and the woman was convicted of murder. That, to me is astounding and pathetic.
An unarmed black man is shot by an non-black man simply because that black man was “walking in the wrong neighborhood”. The shooter claims to be “standing my ground” and is acquitted by a jury.
A woman who is the victim of domestic abuse finally snaps and kills the abuser. She claims she was defending herself, yet she is charged, convicted and sent to prison for the “crime”. Can anyone out there really defend the conflict here? I can’t!
The real problem is that states do very little to protect women when they are victims of domestic abuse. They do very little to help the victim get out of the situation. Then, if the victim strikes back, she is treated as a criminal. There is something very wrong with that scenario.
I am not shooting from the hip here either. I have worked with and tried to defend victims of domestic abuse in the past. It is very difficult to do. Most victims do not want to press charges mainly because they are afraid of the consequences.
Even when charged, domestic abusers usually wind up going home that night and the victim is in horrible danger for standing up to the abuser. Women can get “an order of protection” keeping the abuser from getting within certain distances. But, those orders of protection are almost impossible to enforce.
Many times a woman who has an order of protection is still severely beaten or killed by the abuser who violates the order of protection. There is nothing really to stop them. Paper won’t keep an abuser from going wherever he wants.
Most states allow those charged with or convicted of domestic abuse to keep any guns they may own. That is also unfathomable to any reasonable thinking person. That gun often becomes the means by which the victim becomes dead.
Under this New York law, the survivor needs to pass a three-part test. She needs to be a victim of domestic violence at the time of the offense; the abuse has to be a “significant contributing factor” in the crime; and the judge has to find that sentencing the survivor under the current sentencing guidelines would be “unduly harsh.”
Domestic violence is a very serious problem in our country. States have very little control over the problem and do very little to help the victim. As a result, laws like this one are flawed. First of all, if the victim must be abused at the time of the offense, wouldn’t that constitute self-defense and prevent her from even being prosecuted?
Just like most laws dealing with domestic abuse, this law places all of the burden on the victim. In essence re-victimizing the victim. Domestic abuse is a crime that is all about “control”. It is something that is intended to remove the humanity of the victim. The victim does not consider herself as “worthy” of any protection. That is what makes laws like this inadequate.
Victims of domestic abuse are shattered individuals usually just trying to stay alive and/or protect their children. They are the VICTIMS and should be treated as such. They need help. Mostly, they need to be gotten out of the abusive environment and helped to get back on their feet. This law does nothing to help this problem. The victims are not just the women being abused. Their children are also victims even if they don’t get a beating. They watch as their mother is beaten mercilessly and are scarred for the rest of their lives. Even to the point where they become abusers or abused themselves.
The one thing that can be said is that these domestic victims are definitely victims of terrorism in their own homes. And, for the most part, nothing is being done to protect them. As a result, the real problem is being ignored by this law. Instead of hitting the problem where it really is, going after the abusers, they are trying to figure out a way not to “overly” punish the victim for striking back. All the while people can kill unarmed people on the street and claim they were “standing their ground” and get away with murder.
There is no justice when victims are treated as criminals.