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Violence against women

By Adam Hollier

Domestic violence must be viewed as a men’s issue, not just a women’s issue, which requires changing the intervention strategies. We must deal with this issue from both sides by decreasing the number of male perpetrators and helping women stay out of abusive relationships.  We know men who experience domestic violence as children are more likely to commit it as adults, so let’s break the cycle by providing counseling to children and raising the profile of this issue. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, and historically most women have been victimized by someone they knew.  Every nine seconds in the United States, a mother, sister, daughter or wife is assaulted or beaten (www.domesticviolencestatistics.org.)

The first step is to acknowledge we have a problem. In Detroit, we have an epidemic.  Every day women are victimized and feel trapped in their homes because men continue to commit crimes against them. Three years ago, the Detroit 300 marched and passed out fliers to bring to justice the men who raped a 90-year-old woman in her home. Two years ago, there was the senseless murder of Bianca Jones at the hands of her father. Moreover, we cannot forget the kidnapping and murder of Abreeya Brown and Ashley Conaway, who texted for help while in the trunk of their abductors’ cars just last year.  Sadly, a month ago two seniors were savagely beaten in their own homes.  As a husband, a son, a brother, an uncle, and one day, a father, I know each one of these women deserved better. Unless we intervene, there will be another headline soon.  The common truth is one out of every three murdered women is killed by a current or former partner, according to safehorizon.org. I know I would do anything to protect my wife, mother, sisters and nieces; however the question remains: What can we do?

The second step is to fix our laws and ensure they are designed to protect women.  Take Marissa Alexander of Tallahassee, Fla. for example, a woman who was convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2012.  In the same state that acquitted George Zimmerman under the auspices of the controversial “Stand Your Ground” law, Mrs. Alexander fired a warning shot at her estranged husband, against whom she had a restraining order.  The trial judge barred Mrs. Alexander from using the “Stand Your Ground” defense, even though she had a restraining order stating she had “reasonable cause to believe … (she was) in immediate danger of becoming the victim of any act of domestic violence.”  But the underlying issue is not about gun laws, it is about why Mrs. Alexander needed a restraining order in the first place and didn’t have the right to defend herself.  Men continue to perpetrate violence against women and it is time to make our laws protect women.

Fixing our laws is just a part of the issue; the second part is correcting the perception of domestic violence.  People often rally behind the moral reasons for eliminating domestic violence, but there are economic reasons as well.

Kalyn Risker, the founder of the Sisters Acquiring Financial Empowerment (SAFE), recently reminded me fast food jobs are often the first jobs available to women recovering from domestic violence.  Many people argue fast food job and service jobs shouldn’t be designed for full-time workers. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness among families.  Addressing violence against women not only has a moral imperative, but social and economic one as well.

The time to act is now because the most sobering fact is that most domestic violence goes unreported.  We as men have to teach our sons  the way to solve a problem is never through violence, and teach our daughters any man who abuses you is not worthy of you. It is estimated an abuser hits his spouse 35 times before she makes a police report. More troubling is  in the time it took to read this article, almost 100 people in the United States were victims of intimate partner violence in the United States.

We will forever remember Trayvon Martin and Emmett Till, whose murders galvanized our nation to stand up.  Today, let’s honor the memory of Abreeya Brown, Ashley Conaway and Bianca Jones by working to free Marissa Alexander and ensure women who seek to protect themselves have the law on their side.

Adam Hollier is a  Detroit City Council District 5 candidate.

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