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Letter to the Editor: We should not blame the person abused

A former member of the Mecklenburg County Domestic Violence Advisory Board, disheartened I am, following Taylor Liles’ tragic death.

Nineteen is too young to die, but no exemption from domestic violence.

Yet the shame and stigma persist, compelling victims to suffer in isolation and many to ignore it, perpetuating the myth that it’s none of my business.

Domestic violence is everyone’s business, prevalent in every demographic and socioeconomic sector.

But why is it so pervasive?

Many assume that “fear” alone is sufficient justification for legal action when one reports abuse.

It is not.

Judges issues restraining orders and base their rulings on evidence.

It’s the victim’s responsibility to produce incriminating evidence of abuse: witnesses to stalking, repeated phone calls recorded on answering machines, threatening texts and Facebook posts, communications of threats, including when, where and how, etc.

That’s why it’s important for victims to report instances of abuse immediately, accurately and clearly.

The reports and documentation are records indicating the likelihood and probability of escalating violence. Such facts enable the courts to intervene with an arrest or restrictive orders.

Some victims suffer prolonged abuse because they fail to report incidents accurately, if at all.

Why?

Shame, fear for their children’s safety, lack of credit or finances, fear of homelessness or a myriad of other reasons.

Twice as many families are impacted by domestic violence as by breast cancer.

Mecklenburg County has led the state in domestic violence related homicides for years; however, rural communities are now experiencing domestic violence deaths, sending shock waves statewide, Liles’ death, for example.

In 2018, a United Nations study reported that “87,000 women were murdered around the world, and more than half, 50,000 or 58 percent, were killed by partners or family members. Over a third (30,000) of those intentionally killed last year were murdered by a current or former intimate partner. This means globally that six women are killed every hour by someone they know.”

It’s unfair to blame victims for the cruel realities of domestic violence.

Instead the perpetrators are to blame.

By failing to report abuse, victims subject themselves and their children to harm.

Taylor Liles’ death is a sad reality. More must be done to help victims, particularly those in rural communities. More shelter beds are needed where victims and those with children can safely reside, awaiting prosecution of their abuser.

Domestic violence is a crime. But assaulting your wife or girlfriend carries a lesser penalty than assaulting your pet.

We can change that.

Why do we get upset with Michael Vick and dog fighting rings, but hesitate to raise our voices against domestic violence?

We have the power to stop domestic or girlfriend or intimate partner to death.

It’s through our efforts that victims may finally be heard violence. Through legislators and public opinion we need to say in a loud and unified voice that it is not OK to beat your wife.

Patrick Burris
Charlotte