Abcarian: The violence and abuse women face behind closed doors

A few things unrelated to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine caught my eye recently and reminded me that while this conflict will eventually end, the violence inflicted on women by loved ones is a war is that lasts.

I say “women” knowing full well that men and people of different gender identities are also victims of domestic violence. I use “women” as an abbreviation, much like “men” has long stood for all of us, because women are far more likely than men to be bullied in intimate relationships.

That’s why the landmark legislation that sponsored Joe Biden as Senator in 1994 and reauthorized as President last week is called Violence Against woman Law or VAWA.

Under President Trump, who was hardly a champion of women’s rights, the law lapsed. The new release expands protection for survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault.

Spotted portrait illustration of Robin Abcarian

opinion columnist

Robin Abcarian

It will also fund rape treatment centers, provide and provide training for law enforcement agencies new federal protection for Native American women who are being assaulted by non-Indigenous perpetrators. This is one of the most important achievements of the law; In the past, when a non-Native attacked a Native on tribal lands, the suspect was referred to federal prosecutors, who often declined to prosecute. according to the Ministry of Justice. Now such cases are handled by tribal authorities.

The bill had bipartisan support, but unfortunately Congress was unable to use VAWA to shut it down due to opposition from Republican gun worshipers the “boyfriend loophole” in federal law. The loophole allows unmarried partners to own firearms even if they have been convicted of domestic violence. Currently, you must be married, live together, or have a child together for the gun ban to apply.

That’s insane considering so many intimate partner murders are committed by dating partners. In an analysis 80% of domestic violence calls to the Philadelphia Police Department in 2013 involved unmarried partners.

“A growing portion of the population is not protected by federal policies aimed at keeping guns away from offenders,” said two University of Pennsylvania researchers who analyzed data in 2018. “Current boyfriends and girlfriends are a risk to their intimacy.”

So, those “few things” I mentioned above? They recall that while media interest in domestic violence ebbs and flows, it remains a problem. Whatever else is happening on the world stage, we can be sure that intimate partners will be bullied, harassed and attacked behind closed doors. things only got worse during the pandemicwhen families were locked together for so many months.

On Tuesday, The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah took a moment from the comedy to express his concerns about how Kanye West has treated his ex-wife Kim Kardashian and her current boyfriend Pete Davidson. What Noah did was extremely unusual and commendable.

West has engaged in an escalating war of words against Kardashian and was particularly angry with “Saturday Night Live” star Davidson by posting a video showing a claymation version of Davidson being kidnapped, buried and decapitated.

You might call this behavior another high-profile celebrity train wreck, but Noah saw something darker.

“What we’re seeing,” said Noah, whose mother survived after her stepfather was shot in the head in 2009, “is one of the most powerful, one of the richest women in the world who can’t get her ex to stop texting her, stop chasing her, stop bothering her,” he said. “Just think about it for a moment. Remember how powerful Kim Kardashian is and she can’t pull this off.

The next day, after West responded to Noah with a racial slur, Noah posted a long, sympathetic message on West’s Instagram account: “I’ve woken up too many times to read headlines about men who killed their exes, their kids and then himself,” Noah wrote. “I never want to read that headline about you.”

Two weeks before Noah’s request to West, the New York Times Magazine was published a devastating story about the overlooked brain damage suffered by women whose partners hit them. Researchers speculate that the harm that occurs in private, and often goes untreated, may be worse than what soccer players suffer. It amounts to a kind of slow murder.

“Even light blows to the head, if repeated often enough, can lead to long-term neurodegenerative disease,” wrote journalist Christa Hillstrom, who spent two years researching the play and spearheaded it with a report on a woman whose boyfriend she hit her head so hard that her hearing and memory were impaired. Her face was scarred and her scalp was bald and she suffered from migraines, blurred vision and confusion.

Hillstrom interviewed Eve Valera, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard who studies traumatic brain injury in domestic violence survivors. “Each year,” Hillstrom writes, “there are hundreds of concussions in the NFL; Thousands perform in the military. Valera’s estimated annual number of brain injuries among domestic violence survivors: 1.6 million.”

Like war itself, this notion is almost too depressing to contemplate. But we know that, like war, intimate partner violence can be inflicted on anyone and anywhere.

@AbcarianLAT Abcarian: The violence and abuse women face behind closed doors

Caroline Bleakley

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