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Getting it right, getting it wrong

What’s that saying? “Two steps forward, one step back?” Why does it always seem to end up that way? The good news:

Thanx to the efforts of the incredible folks from UltraViolet, a popular “entertainer” has had his pending reality show pulled after he posted self-defensive Tweets like, “Women who are really raped REMEMBER!!!”

For those unfamiliar with this story, the entertainer allegedly drugged his victim and subsequently raped her after she succumbed to the drugs’ affects. Because she was unconscious for the act he called it consensual; when she woke up naked in his bed, she called it what it was: rape. Banking on his fame (and her unconsciousness) it became a “he said, she said” thing until this entertainer’s arrogance got him tweeting what he did. Thankfully, he's not being rewarded for his actions and arrogance.

Next, NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, set a good example by not only correcting himself when he seemed to publicly minimize domestic violence a few weeks back but took it a step further by expanding the punishment for DV from a two-game suspension to a six-game suspension without pay for a first offense with a lifetime ban from the league for a second offense – Thank you, Mr. Goodell! May you and your family never know the pain and anguish caused by domestic violence first-hand.

This last piece of good news leads to our bad news. In his six-point policy improvement against DV in the NFL , Mr. Goodell cited the following:

Among the circumstances that would merit a more severe penalty would be a prior incident before joining the NFL, or violence involving a weapon, choking, repeated striking, or when the act is committed against a pregnant woman or in the presence of a child. (Bold emphasis added).

Why emphasis added? Because of an article published in our August 26th’s Star Advertiser entitled, “Stricter abuse law criticized as excessive . Under a “new” Hawaii law (passed this past legislative session) it’s now a Class C felony – punishable with up to five years imprisonment – to commit DV in the presence of a child that catches Hawaii up with at least 14 other states who already have similar, or stricter, anti-DV statutes on their books.

So you wanna know what’s really frustrating for me about some DV-related articles and news stories? When people who don’t know what the heck they’re talking about are quoted as if they do.

The Star Advertiser article quotes a defense attorney as saying the new statute “unnecessarily criminalizes people who should not be criminalized” - REALLY???!!! I didn’t realize there were people “who should not be criminalized”; my understanding is if you commit a crime, you’re a criminal – whether you’re caught with the crime or not – a crime is a crime, no matter who commits it! (But I guess in this guy’s mind/world a crime is defined by who you are not by what you did/failed to do?)

It’s people with this defense attorney’s “understanding” that allow people like the entertainer in the first story to continue on without worry or consequence. Abuse is abuse – NO ONE should get a free pass because of fame, fortune or physical attractiveness – and “justice for all” doesn’t mean justice for some.

If this defense attorney was familiar with the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study , he would have known better then to question the definition of the term “presence” especially since he’s credited as someone whose purportedly in support of child protection. Abuse is all-around bad and potentially life-threatening for children AND for the unborn - and unborn babies are a good example to refer to here: technically they don't independently hear, see or feel abuse yet they can literally die because of even indirect exposure to abuse in-utero.

If you're serious about the welfare of children, you have to have a zero-tolerance for violence and abuse of any kind - within the context of abuse, you cannot protect a victim while remaining “pals-y” with, excusing, minimizing or rationalizing the actions of the abuser. Abuse is not fair and equal - that's why it's called abuse!

Another indicator that the defense attorney doesn’t know/understand/get abuse: his example of “misuse”. Ok, POP QUIZ everybody! What kind of a person would insert a child into a situation to elevate the crime?

  1. A victim
  2. An abuser
  3. A by-stander

Hope everyone chose 2!

Adult victims of abuse will always put themselves physically in front of their children to protect them if they are physically capable of doing so at the time of abuse in-progress or they will attempt to hide/mask/cover-up or keep a child away from an incident that they have a feeling might occur. One of the most heartbreaking reactions I’ve had the misfortune to witness is when a survivor realizes that her children were impacted by the abuse despite all her efforts to keep it from them (ie: we only fought when they went to bed; I made sure the kids were never home when it happened; I always turned the TV up, played the music loud, put on a movie for them, closed the door, etc.)

I specified "adult victims" above to comment about the defense attorney's reference to sibling fights because in those situations, siblings under the age of 14 often won't hesitate to get other siblings involved in a fight but the question about a sibling being charged with a felony for fighting with another sibling? Again, really??? Let's not stretch it. The law was put in-place to protect not to exploit.

Abusers, on the other hand, are quick to put children in the middle of a conflict and don’t care if the children see/hear anything because an abuser’s focus is solely on his victim when abuse is in-progress. Children who typically insert themselves into an escalating situation do so to protect the victim and end up enraging the abuser further; often children who try to intervene become victims themselves in the process. Remember 14 year-old, Tyran Vesperas?

Bottom line here is if anyone is going to "misuse" the statute, it's going to be an abuser or one of his supporters - not the victim.

However the kids get exposed to abuse is always the fault and full responsibility of the abuser. Why? Because violence and abuse always rests “in the hands” of the person who chooses to use it and to be clear, that’s all on the abuser.

ANY form of abuse is a crime - whether it be domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, rape, false imprisonment, revenge porn or property damage. If you don’t want to be a criminal, don’t commit a crime; if you don’t want to be found guilty of abuse, don’t abuse – it really is that simple.

If you or someone you know appears to be heading down a violent or abusive path – whether victim or abuser – get help sooner rather than later. The only real shame in abuse is failing to get the help to prevent it from happening.

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