Monday, June 22, 2015

Lesson Learned From Clinton - Stop The Victim Blaming

With the tragic loss of Sandra Sutton (in Clinton, Missouri) due to domestic violence, there has been more discussion about domestic violence, how does it happen, why does it happen, why don’t people leave, and why don’t they call the police. There are so many questions because domestic violence is so complicated. There are no easy answers and the answers can challenge our way of thinking and shatter our vision of a peaceful and happy existence.
If someone has never experienced domestic violence or been exposed to it, the thought that someone who is supposed to love another person could hurt them in a violent way is hard to understand and wrap your arms around. The thought that someone could be kept in a box for months is something that even those of us who work in the field of domestic violence have to take a break and regroup. It takes your breath away as you imagine that horror. It made me sick to my stomach to imagine the horror she experienced. It made me cry.
That type of act is hideous and unthinkable. But yet, it happened here in our state of Missouri. This is the case we know about. Unfortunately, it is probably happening to someone else and we just don’t know it.
But why does it happen? Why does a relationship get so out of control?
That is where the difficulty in understanding comes in. There are so many reasons. But, even when you hear the reasons, it is hard to make sense of it. Even if you understand the origin and the thought process, coming to terms with such heinous acts is difficult.  How does a person get so out of control that he does something like that to his partner? Then, the even more unthinkable happens; she gets away and he hunts her down and murders her and her 17-year-old son.
How does someone do that? How does someone become so filled with hate and rage that they can do that? The answer is so simple, yet very complex – power and control. He had to have complete power over his partner, he went to unimaginable lengths to control her, and when he lost that control he committed the ultimate act of domestic violence: murder to regain that power and control. If he couldn’t control her and have complete power over her, then no one else would either, especially her. He wouldn’t allow her to make her own decisions and to live her life the way she wanted. He made sure of that when he murdered her and her son.
The important thing to remember is, it was not her fault!
She is not responsible for being murdered or kept in a box. She escaped and he tracked her down and he killed her. She is not to be blamed for this horrible act. It doesn’t matter if she called the police or didn’t call the police, or if she filed for a protection order or didn’t file for one. It was NOT her fault.
We cannot blame the victim for the things that happen to them. We must focus the attention on the perpetrator of the violence and the crime. But yet, somehow in domestic violence situations we blame the victim. We look at what she did or didn’t do and make it somehow her fault instead of looking at the perpetrator and placing the responsibility there and there alone.
If we are ever going to end domestic violence, it will be when we hold perpetrators accountable and break the cycle of violence. We must take responsibility as a society that domestic violence is allowed to happen. Whether it is a push, punch or kept locked-up in a box; it is wrong and must be stopped. We must work together to address the issue, we must shift the conversation from why didn’t she leave, why didn’t she call the police, get a protection order, to violence is not okay, and we must stop it. We must not allow our conversations to continue the abuse of the victim by blaming her, and we must all agree that violence is never the answer, violence is not okay.
If you want to learn more about domestic violence and the resources that are available and how you can help, please visit If you are in need of help please call the metro domestic violence hotline: 816-HOTLINE.