Letters

From the week of July 9, 1998

Well, I'm here to tell you that it's not. I was married to a man like that, and it was only because the police and the victim advocates and the district attorneys did their job that I'm alive today.

Name withheld on request

Where do you get your "facts"? The FBI reports men and women in relationships are reporting attacking each other at near-equal rates (actually, slightly more assaults by women on men). I grant you, the injuries inflicted by males tend to be greater, and I don't doubt your eight-to-one arrest-ratio statistic; I can easily visualize cops and people in general mocking and blowing off battered husbands. The truth is, being weaker doesn't justify violence.

I'll tell you, too, that the "Krystal" case sounds pretty hinky to me. Sounds mutually abusive, when I read between the lines (as I must, since you tell only her side). I'm not inexperienced in this issue: I come from an Appalachian area where wife-beating, though not approved of, was accepted by society. Also, my two closest friends (who are not from that society) are women who again and again seek out relationships where they are controlled (one usually isn't allowed to get phone calls or messages) and battered by a succession of essentially identical lovers.

The most telling quote of the series was, "It's hard for these guys to stay out of relationships." Yeah, because our society and their (mostly also abused) childhoods have taught the women involved to seek out carbon-copy abusive, self-absorbed pretty boys, one after another. The theme in your articles that batterers must take responsibility for their actions is very true. The fact is, if you really love someone, you don't hit her, and if you don't love her, you shouldn't be with her.

But another truth is that it takes two to tango. Both of my friends, for instance, are at least somewhat (although less so than their "partners") mutual in the abuse. One of them, while living with me (non-sexually), became extremely and insistently verbally abusive (verbal and emotional violence are real, and scarifying)--trying, I believe, to get me to hit her. Not because she likes injuries, or even to obtain the power of guilt over me (which is a well-documented pattern), but subconsciously, because it's the only relationship pattern she's known. I never hit her, by the way. I've never hit any woman in my adult life, other than agreed-to spanks for fun, which aren't violence.

Even by just staying, the victim participates in her own abuse, allows it.
The truly feminist position is to recognize (as you do only mockingly, putting quotes around the word "empowerment") that men want and need women, and that thus the true power, the power not of violence but of choice, is in the hands of women. All they need to do is use it to not choose the same bastard with a different face; removing a woman from an abusive relationship doesn't help her if she just finds another.

By the way, of the many abusive relationships that my two friends have had, that which resulted in the most serious injuries was a lesbian one. Stop shitting on men.

Tom Hyle
Colorado Springs

Thank you for addressing the issues surrounding America's most under-responded-to criminal behavior, domestic violence.

There are many victim support agencies offering a variety of services to those afflicted by family predator behavior. Though stalking appears to be the "power crime of the Nineties," many of us know that relationships based on power and control have been around as long as those supported by mutually nurturing love and respect. Though many of our private and public agencies operate with the best of intentions, Stalking Rescue provides a relatively different philosophy to our clientele: No one is more motivated to help the victim than the victim. Therefore, in addition to referring victims to safehouses, police and other related services, we offer our clientele proactive strategies for predator containment. It has been our observation that many assistance providers are engaging in "outreach" programs designed to meet the immediate needs of victims. To those providers, we take our hats off for educating victims about what this behavior is and how its generational perpetuation affects all of us. Stalking Rescue promotes victim accountability for their personal safety, their children's safety and their personal recovery. We cannot help our kids until we help ourselves.

There are many dedicated persons assisting those victimized by domestic violence in our community. I applaud the efforts of so many. As a former victim of domestic abuse, it warms my heart to attend the Denver Domestic Violence Task Force meetings monthly and see these dedicated professionals who "show up" for so many victims. Let us all support the common good of our individual missions rather than judge that which we do not know. Blame and labeling can only produce separation, contempt and inefficiency. To every assistance provider, police officer, victim advocate, therapist, prosecutor, attorney and judge, I say that together we can stem the tide of increasing domestic-violence cases in this country--because, after all, we're all in this together.

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