Thursday, October 22, 2009

Do not call 911

Seattle news:
How the Cops and Courts Turn Abused Spouses Into Voiceless Victims
The “enlightened” approach to domestic abuse has left women passive and powerless.
By Nina Shapiro
Published on October 30, 2007 at 8:45pm

Andrea Rich-Bell waits anxiously in a hallway of Seattle Municipal Court, her heavily pregnant frame wrapped in a bulky black jacket. She's due to give birth in three weeks, but the baby feels like it might drop any minute. It isn't lightening her load that her husband, a construction worker named Roy, is in the "tank," the courthouse's basement holding cell. Nor that prosecutors are proceeding with a domestic violence case against Roy over her ardent objections. ...

According to the police report, two 911 calls were made ...

She says she told the arriving officers that he didn't do anything to her. "They said, 'OK, we'll take him to jail for being intoxicated.'" The next thing she knew, he was being charged with assault in the fourth degree and harassment.

The court also imposed a "no-contact order" that prohibits her from seeing her husband while the case is pending—a period during which she is likely to give birth to their child.

At 9 a.m., Roy's public defender arrives. Rich-Bell smiles gamely at her, greeting her as an ally. The attorney then goes into a small conference room where prosecutors and defenders discuss possible deals. A short while later, the attorney returns to debrief Rich-Bell on the options. Prosecutors are willing to ask the judge to lift the no-contact—but only, ironically enough, if Roy pleads guilty to assaulting her. If he insists on a trial, the order stays.

"So they're not going to give him a temporary release for the birth of my child?" Rich-Bell asks.
Here is another such story, also from Washington state. A woman describes how the cops arrested her husband without any complaint from her:
I scoffed, telling him it was my fault, that I had walked into traffic, my husband was only trying to help.

“That’s what all abuse victims do,” he responded. “They blame themselves.”

I insisted. My husband is the mildest man I know. He’s a mathematician who wears reading glasses on a chain and celebrates the birthday of Gauss. He will not do well in jail.

“Listen.” The guy, huge and bald, adjusted his belt. “You’ve got to get it through your head, this guy does not love you. He controls you. Even if you were a great homemaker who kept the house spotless, he would hurt you. Even if you were taller and blonder, he wouldn’t stop.” ...

To her credit, the judge considered. It was clear she was pained by this matter and wanted to let it drop. But after excusing herself to ponder she returned to impose the order. I was to have no contact with my husband, in person, by phone or email, until some yet undetermined court date that could happen as late as early 2010.

I left, unable to speak to J or let him know that I was leaving. He had a brand-new job. He’d done nothing wrong (except forget to unlock a trailer). He’d just spent 23 hours in the county lockup.
Robert Franklin comments here. I don't see how a ban on phone and email contact could ever be justified, no matter what he had done. Even if he were a convicted murdered, she should be able to communicate with him by phone and email. Apparently spammers and Nigerian scammers can email her, but not her husband.

The obvious lesson here is to never call 911 for domestic violence or for anything that might be misconstrued as domestic violence.

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