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(en) US, Anti-Authoritarian jornal BAAM #27 - Free Texas Battered Women by Cathy Marston, Ph.D and Clara Hendricks

Date Wed, 11 Nov 2009 10:04:26 +0200



It is said that it takes a village to raise a child. Likewise, it takes a village to bat
ter a woman and it takes a village to end domestic violence. ---- Statistics agree that
the United States has one of the highest rates in the world of domestic violence against
women. Somewhere around 78-84% of American women are survivors of domestic violence,
according to the U.S. Department of Justice. ---- These facts should not surprise anyone.
Black feminist cultural critic and writer bell hooks says that most Americans agree that
they are against violence against women. However, as she points out in her book All About
Love: New Visions, very few people want to put their beliefs into action to end domestic
violence. Why? As hooks says, "When you explain that we can only end male violence by
challenging patriarchy, and that
means no longer accepting the notion that
men should have more rights and privi-
leges than women because of biological
differences or that men should have the
right to rule over women, that is when
agreement stops" (p. 90).
In Dr. Marston's research on the sexual
harassment of female news workers, she
found that men employ four strategies
when confronted with their misdeeds: 1.
Lie; 2. Deny; 3. Blame the victim (say she
"deserved" it); 4. Call the victim "crazy!"
Normalizing the persecution of women is
nothing new and the witch-hunt continues
here in the US, especially so in Texas. In
the larger context of US male violence
against women, we point the Lone Star-
shaped spotlight on the fact that on a do-
mestic violence call in Texas, the Texas
police deliberately arrest battered women in-
stead of their male batterers at least 20% of
the time, according to the Texas Council on
Family Violence. This misogynist atrocity
only happens 3% of the time in other states.
Thus, Texas has created a uniquely mi-
sogynist jurisprudence and police practice
to empower men to batter women with the
knowledge that the cops and courts will aid
them in the ultimate misogynist victim-blam-
ing: arresting the battered woman, slandering
her and stigmatizing her as the problem, and
silencing her forever through the torture of
Texas' notorious prisons and jails.
This Dark Age of Patriarchal Violence in
Texas happens amid a longstanding nation-
wide movement to free and exonerate battered
women in other states, as Ms. reported in its
Fall 2007 issue in an article entitled "Freeing
the Survivors." Even battered women who
killed their batterers in self-defense are being
freed and exonerated, while Texas won't even
stop its sexist cops from violating state statute
and the federal constitution.
Twice in 2004, the Austin police found Dr.
Cathy Marston with her abusive ex-boyfriend
and/or his best friend on top of her trying
to kill her and beating her. Twice the cops
called off the batterers and, without prob-
able cause, and without hesitation, arrested
HER. These incidents happened 11 months
apart. The first involved a 90-minute beat-
ing by Cathy's ex-boyfriend after he nearly
succeeded in smothering and choking her to
death- where the police refused to respond to
a 911 call where she screamed for help and
her abuser cut off the call. When she filed
a complaint against the arresting officer with
the City of Austin's Police Monitor, he disap-
peared- as did the tape of her 911 call (but not
all evidence of that call).
If the first unlawful arrest had been quickly
and properly adjudicated to exonerate her and
arrest her batterers, the second gory attempt
on her life would never have occurred. In-
stead, the D.A. coerced a plea bargain (on the
first unlawful arrest) where she admitted on
the record that she knew Cathy was innocent-
and had Cathy plead to a bogus misdemeanor
trespass, where the D.A.'s duty was to dis-
miss the charges.

On 12/13/04, the abusive friend of Cathy's
abusive ex chased her down in broad day-
light. He tackled her and tried to kill her by
grinding her face into the cement to smother
her as he said, "Either I'll kill you first, or the
cops will get you, you bitch!"
Where would he get the idea that he could
beat and kill a woman and that the cops would
arrest HER? From the larger American con-
text of blaming women for the male violence
committed against us- and, obviously, from
the Austin Police Dept. and Travis County
court system.
That should turn your stomach and spark
your outrage, as should the fact that this mur-
derous man was right: as Cathy was go-
ing unconscious and could taste the blood
in her mouth from him tearing open her
face, smothering her into the concrete, a
cop pulled up five feet from her head. He
called off this murderous brute and arrest-
ed Cathy and yukked it up with her assail-
ant, just as the 1/13/04 arresting officer
had done with this batterer and her abusive
ex. (Please note in the original case, her
ex-boyfriend ran and got his friend to join
in after beating her to a bruised, bloody
mass and breaking her foot in two places).
Cathy has done nearly five years on
a 10-year sentence with no prior felo-
ny convictions for being a woman in
a misogynist state that is completely
out of touch with common decency.
This October, for Domestic Violence
Awareness Month, and every day, citizens
need to challenge the victim-blaming of
women and STOP violence against wom-
en. A good public shaming and refusal to
put money in the pockets of Texas busi-
nesses are only a beginning to stopping
the violence. Write Texas officials and
demand they free and exonerate battered
women like Cathy. Demand Texas leg-
islators reinstate and expand SCR-26
which was eradicated when George Bush
became governor in 1994. SCR-26 created
protections for battered women and created
the Texas Council on Family Violence which
recommended pardons for battered women
(which the Board of Pardons and paroles re-
jected) in the early 1990s during Gov. Ann
Richards' tenure.
Tell Texas officials that the Texas police
need to quit arresting battered women, and
that the police who do arrest battered women
need to be held accountable, as do the prose-
cutors who knowingly, wrongfully prosecute.
One officer arresting Cathy was one lone mi-
sogynist. A second arresting her 11 months
later? That must be the unwritten policy of
the Austin Police department. And Texas po-
lice arresting battered women instead of their
male batterers 20% of the time when NO other
state does this and when men commit 99% of all
violence?
That is a public safety emergency!
Don't forget to demand generous monetary compensation
for battered women's losses, injuries and time; jobs
worthy of our educational and professional
accomplishments and sustainable, reason-
able salaries for all battered women- as well
as safe houses and communities to live in.
A rethinking of gender roles and gender
assumptions is clearly needed, as bell hooks
suggests. Quit thinking of women as belong-
ing to their father (if single) or husband (if
married). When a woman tells you she is be-
ing abused, your response should be, "That's
awful he's doing that. How can I help?" Of-
fer to accompany the woman to make a police
report, or to shelter the woman, her children,
her pets, and her property yourself; and offer
ongoing support that never wanes.
Susan Faludi, in Backlash, reported that the
largest growing group among the homeless
in the 1980s were battered women who had
fled their abusers and their children. Surely
that group is even larger now, especially with
this massive economic downturn. Why? Be-
cause of the vulnerability of female workers
in a sexist economy that still only pays them
78 cents on a man's dollar, and offers fewer
benefits. Also because of patriarchy, sexist
attitudes shoulder the blame on women, as-
sume that a woman will go to her father for
help, take for granted that a woman can just
get on public assistance, or pressure a woman
to find another man to support her.
Cathy would've left her batterer a year
before she did in 2001 if she had the mon-
ey, safe housing, job, and other support she
needed. The lack of those things when she
did leave him and the lack of a well-paying
job forced her to return to her batterer when
her mom opened up about 40 years of abuse
from Cathy's dad. Indeed, Cathy returned to
Texas in 2004 to get her mom away from her
abusive dad. The cops and prosecutors are
well aware of this fact and are complicit in
perpetuating abuse of her mom, too.
The real "cycle of violence" is victim-
blaming and patriarchal gender assumptions.
Texas takes misogyny to its most violent ex-
treme and to a uniquely unthinkable, repug-
nant conclusion: promoting domestic vio-
lence, instead of ending it.
_________________________________________
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