Victim Blaming: The Today Show is Ridiculous

While the Mel Gibson story is still fresh, many news outlets are discussing the fight caught on tape by radaronline.com.

Most analysis is limited but one I found was so horrific I had to post about it.

The wonderful Men's Anti Violence Council has an extended analysis of the Today Show's attempt at addressing the abuse endured by Mel Gibson's partner. The Today Show's Chief Medical Editor, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, made this statement about the taped conversation:

This is not to excuse any of the behavior on either side, but she was very passive aggressive. She was baiting him and really knew which buttons to push. She kept pushing, pushing him. When questioned by Meredith, Dr. Nancy clarified by saying She knew how to engage the rage. She was very quiet, used a soft voice. She pushed him, pushed him, pushed him in a very passive aggressive way.

First, this statement implies Oksana (or any victim of Domestic Violence) was partial at fault for the assault she endured. No one can EVER do ANYTHING to deserve (Dr. Snyderman says "bait" which reads deserved) emotional or physical assault from a partner. If a partner is a batterer, it is a learned behavior that can emerge with any partner -- it has nothing to do with the victim.

Dr. Nancy Snyderman is also an example of someone with absolutely no experience or expertise in domestic violence that feels she can pass judgement on a situation she does not understand. Dr. Snyderman is a ear, nose, and throat doctor (a degree that teaches nothing of the psychological and social causes of DV) and has a platform to discuss a very serious and violent epidemic.

It is this type of media coverage that encouraged us, at Sojourn, to start this blog and I am glad I can write about this infuriating discussion of DV. Hopefully I have dispelled some misconceptions about DV that were reinforced by the Today Show interview.


Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson admitted to domestic violence -- both emotional and physical -- against his partner and mother of his daughter, Oksana Grigorieva.

Radaronline.com released audio tapes that confirm Mel's emotional abuse of Oksana and his violence against her. In the transcripts Mel embodies many battering characteristics that we see at Sojourn, daily.

One portion of the tape highlighted a part of DV that is rarely talked about in news stroies regarding domestic violence.
The tape depicts Mel blaming Oksana for his violent behavior. As reported by Radaronline, Mel says:

You don't have any f*cking friends except me, and you treat me like shi*! So
that's why I'm so fucking angry...

Mel turns the tables on Oksana and blames her for his aggressive and violent behavior. This is a typical tactic of batterers. However, battering is never the fault of the victim. This tactic allows batterers to maintain control of a situation in which they are obviously in the wrong. Batterers are able to make themselves feel justified in their violence and emotional manipulation.

Moreover, this tactic can convince the traumatized partner that she can fix the problem that initiated the violence.

Batterers can not be "changed" by the partners they batter. The myth that women incite violence against them by any particular act is entirely unfounded and simply serves as a tool to continue abusive partnerships.

The cycle of DV is incredibly evident in this case and we, at Sojourn, hope Oksana stays safe and Mel Gibson's case is taken seriously and justice is served.

image via radaronline.com


The Plight of Padma Patil

The brother and father of Afshan Azad, who plays Padma Patil in the Harry Potter films, have been charged with threatening to kill her. According to the BBC, Azad's family are conservative Muslims and did not approve of her Hindu boyfriend. This disapproval led to threats and a physical assault by Afshan's brother and father in the last week.

This is an obvious case of violence against women and domestic violence. At Sojourn, we often stress the occurrence of intimate partner violence between a woman and her current or former romantic partner. However, Azad's assault highlights domestic violence in familial contexts by male family members. It is important to remember that the desire to control another person can and does emerge in familial contexts and that these situations can become violent.

Moreover, some news outlets have pointed to the similarities to Azad's situation and the growing number of Honor Killings in the UK. Honor killings are described by the UN as the murder of a family member (mostly female) by a fellow family member (usually male) to save the "honor" of the family. Wearing inappropriate clothes or engaging in sexual acts are some of the ways a female victim can bring dishonor upon a family. While Azad has not confirmed the details of her attack, her situation offers a platform for discussing the on going domestic violence (honor killings) against women by male family members today.

We, at Sojourn, hope that Afshan remains safe and feels the British law offers her sufficient legal responses to her emotional and physical assault. We also hope her horrific situation can raise awareness about family violence against women as well as the rise of honor killings in western countries.

Updates on this situation as it develops.

(Photo Via www.msmagazine.com/blog/)


Texting and Dating Violence

The blogosphere erupted this week regarding a recent article from the Washington Post about the connection between texting and Domestic Violence. At Sojourn, we are extremely interested in new forms dating and domestic violence takes, so naturally this conversation caught our eye.

The Post article is couched in the widely reported and horrific -- but not uncommon -- story of Yeardley Love and her abusive boyfriend George Huguely who murdered her on May 3rd of this year. As it turns out, Huguely exhibited extensive abusive behavior that went unreported. This abusive behavior included threatening and relentless calls, texts, and emails -- just now being uncovered by the police . Huguely's extensive methods of abuse are now becoming a useful method in evaluating the severity of his malicious behavior.

This crime serves as a case study for both the extensive abuse achievable through technology as well as how technology can assist in proving abusive behavior by saving threats in emails and text messages.

Obviously in Love's case, the potential positives of recording abuse are entirely outweighed by the horrific dating violence she endured and ultimately her death. Perhaps, however, the ability to record abuse might make it easier for survivors of DV to prosecute the people who abuse them.

This issue highlights the fact that when combating DV it is important to constantly rethink and reevaluate the context in which DV is perpetrated. At Sojourn we intend on staying on top of all tactics abusers utilize.

Also, we are always relieved when dating violence and domestic violence are addressed in larger public forums. This is the issue of our time and gets far too little public attention considering the millions of lives impacted by relentless abuse.

(Image via Google Images)