George Zimmerman’s girlfriend, Samantha Scheibe, is acting in a manner that is typical of many domestic violence victims. As a staunch advocate for victims of domestic violence, a celebrity partner with the National Domestic Violence Hotline, as well as, Safe Passages, I know all too well the stories of victims like Samantha Scheibe who desire to withdraw their statements of abuse against the perpetrator. The victim longs for the abuser to step back into her life and fill a void that she may or may not acknowledge exists.
Many question the character of Scheibe based on her willingness to become romantically involved with the likes of George Zimmerman. Many have questioned whether her desire to re-establish her relationship with Zimmerman is financially motivated by his pending NBC civil suit. Still others suggests that she desires to extend her 15 minutes of fame. Yet, none of these character related issues diminish the significance of the 911 call released to the media immediately following the heated argument between Zimmerman and Scheibe. A very dangerous domestic violence incident occurred.
On the call, Scheibe was clearly in fear for her safety. She said, “ I need police right now.” She outlined the present moment actions wherein Zimmerman was exerting power and control over his victim, Scheibe. Domestic violence victims can be female or male. Domestic violence whether physical, emotional, psychological or financial is about power and control over the victim by the abuser. According to the 911 call, Zimmerman threw Scheibe out of her own home and locked the door thereafter. Police reports indicate that Zimmerman had barricaded himself inside to ensure Scheibe would be unable to re-enter.
SAMANTHA: He’s in my house breaking all my shit because I asked him to leave. He has his freaking gun breaking all of my stuff right now.
SAMANTHA: I’m doing this again?? You just broke my glass table, you just broke my sunglasses and you put your gun in my freaking face and told me to get the fuck out!! This is not your house. No, get out of here!
DISPATCHER: Okay, Where is his weapon at?
SAMANTHA: He just put it down.
DISPATCHER: Okay, and this is
SAMANTHA: No, get out of my house! Do not push me out of my house!! Please get out of my house. Are you serious right now? Are you kidding me!! You’re going to push me out of my house?and lock me out.
DISPATCHER: Okay, you’re outside now?
SAMANTHA: Yeah, he locked me out of my house.
Despite Scheibe’s desire for the court to lift an order that blocks them from seeing each other and for the state to drop the domestic violence charges, this is a criminal matter that pits the State of Florida against George Zimmerman, not Scheibe against Zimmerman. Nevertheless, the state faces an uphill battle in proving the elements of felony aggravated assault with a weapon, misdemeanor battery-domestic violence and criminal mischief when the key witness recants her statements and alleges coercion on the part of the police department. Scheibe has indicated in an affidavit, "I am not afraid of George in any manner and I want to be with him,"
So the question many ask is “why”. Why would a woman who told the district attorney that Zimmerman choked her in the recent past indicate that she no longer fears her abuser when there is no indication that he has received counseling since his last abusive act; Why would a woman who told the dispatcher that Zimmerman knows how to manipulate the system not recognize that her actions will assist in his ability to, once again, escape accountability for his criminal actions; Why would a woman open herself up to possible criminal charges of making a false or misleading statement to a public servant, with the goal of re-establishing a relationship with a man with a long history of domestic violence; Why would Scheibe open herself up to public humiliation and intense scrutiny when Zimmerman's legal team indicated that he no longer desired to have a relationship with her.
The answer is not universal, singular, nor easy to understand. When giving seminars to advocates, victims and survivors, I often state, "the biggest encumbrance in the victim freeing herself from domestic violence is that she loves the abuser more than she loves herself". Many victims suffer from low self-esteem, oftentimes caused by the abuser. Consequently, they feel that they need the abuser to validate themselves. She feels like she "is somebody" because she "has somebody". Sometimes the victim has great compassion for the abuser and feels sorry for his current plight. Scheibe told authorities that Zimmerman was depressed and threatened suicide because he had nothing to lose. She may very well feel that she is all Zimmerman has and does not want him to feel betrayed or alone.
No matter what Scheibe’s reasoning for wanting to re-establish her relationship with Zimmerman, it is in the best interest of the court to deny her request to lift the no-contact provision. Should Zimmerman continue his downward spiral and commit the ultimate act of domestic abuse by killing Ms. Scheibe, our system will have once again failed a victim of domestic violence who needs guidance and support whether she knows it or not.