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Looking at the Josh Duggar police report, one question is obvious--how in the world did Jim Bob and Michelle not go to the police immediately?  This was light years beyond kids messing around.  People don't seem to get that Jim Bob and Michelle's foot-dragging on this amounted to child endangerment.  That's what makes them, not Josh, the real villains in this case.

The obvious question--why would Jim Bob and Michelle decide to light the fuse on what could have been a time bomb?  Based on what we know about the case and the Duggars' culture, it's very possible that they were afraid that reporting it would damage the "body of Christ."

When this first came up, my thoughts immediately turned to Bob Jones University's byzantine handling of allegations of sexual assault.  If you'll remember, several accusers were told that if they moved forward with their claims, it risked "harming the body of Christ."  Supposedly, if they reported it, they could be held responsible for the suspected assailant losing his salvation.

The Duggars, remember, are independent Baptists--like most of BJU's constituency.  That made me wonder--were the Duggars thinking along the same lines as BJU's officials?  It's very possible, given that sex crimes have long been swept under the rug in the IFB community.  Plus, under the Christian patriarchy system, Josh is under his father's command as long as he lives under his roof--a corollary of this being that the father is responsible for his kids' salvation.  It could potentially explain why the girls didn't report it even if they wanted to do so.

Given the circumstances, I have to hope that someone takes a closer look at the Duggars' church.  Jim Bob, remember, went to his church's elders after the second abuse incident in 2003.  One of the few unanswered questions is whether the elders told him not to go further than whatever "counseling" program in which Josh ultimately enrolled.  In this environment, the pastor and elders' word is more or less the law.

Granted, "I was just following my elders' orders" wouldn't nearly be enough to turn down the well-deserved heat the Duggars are getting.  But it makes a big difference whether Jim Bob and Michelle's decision to slow-walk reporting Josh's actions was an act of evil or an act of spinelessness.

Discuss
Reposted from sideboth by kishik

Disclaimer:  I have no idea what the Duggars girls feel right now but I can offer an opinion on what it feels like to be a survivor of sexual abuse going through a media storm.

I am the survivor of sexual abuse at the hands of family member.  I also have had my "story" hit the news and been subject to the public scrutiny.

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Reposted from Shadowcatdancing by kishik

...but I didn't really, until this last week, because I had never experienced it directly.

I am finding the Duggar mess, and the way the media is covering it to be very triggering.  I am upset by it because it brings back memories I thought I had dealt with long ago, and I should leave it alone, but I can't stop looking up every article that shows up in my Twitter timeline or RSS feeds.

First, the reason it is triggering.  
I hesitate to describe myself as a sexual abuse survivor, because I have always felt that putting that label on my experience diminished the experience of those who survived REAL abuse, but it is still with me.
When I was in seventh grade I was already wearing a B-cup, and a boy sitting in the desk behind me in my core studies class decided it would be fun to reach up between the desks that were arranged in pairs to touch my breasts.  I assume the teacher never saw it; at least she never reacted to it.  I would have been about 12 at the time, and I had enlighten parents who had always answered any questions I had, about sex or anything else, but I was still confused, and didn't understand why I was finding this particular touching so very upsetting. I didn't know how to tell the teacher about it.  "He keeps touching me," seemed a very whiny and childish complaint. I did tell my parents, but again could not find the language to tell them what was really happening. If either of my parents had actually understood they would have raised hell. They suggested I ask the teacher to move me to the front of the room so I could see the board better (I am very nearsighted) so I could solve the problem without having to give a reason that I couldn't seem to articulate. It worked briefly, until he got the teacher to move him so he was behind me again.  I threatened to tell the teacher if he didn't stop, and he threatened to cut my breast with his pocket knife if I did. He even took the knife out of his pocket, and it was a silly little pen knife that was not in the least threatening. I had been carrying a real pocket knife in my purse since second grade (both then and now, I consider pocket knives tools, not weapons, and have to very carefully go through my purse before I fly).  I didn't feel threatened by him, but I couldn't MAKE HIM STOP. It went on until the anger and frustration got the better of me, and I cried.  Then he stopped, and even apologized, which made absolutely no sense to me at the time.

I have had more than forty years to understand the power dynamics of that little bullying incident, and it still bothers me a bit sometimes that I let him make me cry. A shieldmaiden of the Rohirrim does not let a pissant little bully make her cry. She steps on him like a bug (and part of my frustration at the time was that the social constraints of being a straight-A student didn't allow me to step on him) or ignores him with icy dignity. If this can still come back to bite me in the ass when I least expect it, despite the most supportive family possible, and education that has helped me to make as much sense of it as possible, what is this much more intimate betrayal doing to Duggar's victims?
And that is what keeps pulling me back to the story.  I keep waiting for someone to pay attention to the victims. They talk about how he was only 14 (as if his youth makes it less abusive somehow), how a youthful "mistake" should be forgiven (as if anyone but his victims has the right to forgive him). The unspoken subtext of many of the conversations I'm seeing and reading in the media is that inappropriate touching by a 14 year old may may be wrong, or sinful, but it isn't really abuse. Making him the subject of every sentence is not just making the girls the object. It's making them disappear completely.

Discuss

Sat May 23, 2015 at 12:27 PM PDT

Praise for Joy of Fishes

by 43north

Reposted from 43north by 2thanks

A short diary, praising the kindness, dedication, compassion, and steadfast good spirit who is known here as Joy of Fishes.
More may be forthcoming from others Kossacks.
I'll merely remark that she is a role model for what true friendship is.
She's a credit to this community.

Poll

All in favor?

66%26 votes
2%1 votes
30%12 votes

| 39 votes | Vote | Results

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Fri May 22, 2015 at 02:50 PM PDT

The prurient god of the Duggars

by Onomastic

Reposted from Onomastic by kishik

Full disclosure. I never watched the Duggar's television show. Heard about it, of course. But the show's entire premise left me feeling nauseous. The focus on fertility and a constant state of pregnancy as some kind of prurient proof of religiosity, as if god has his head up everyone's groin, set alarm bells ringing.

Turns out my alarm bells were working just fine, thank you.

According to the police report, Jim Bob and Michelle, paragons of parenting, hid Josh’s crimes from the police and the public. In Touch reports, based on the police report it obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request, that:

   

Josh Duggar was investigated for multiple sex offenses — including forcible fondling — against five minors. Some of the alleged offenses investigated were felonies. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar were interview [sic] by the Springdale Police department on Dec. 12, 2006. The report says that James told police he was alerted in March, 2002 by a female minor that Josh — who turned 14-years-old that month — had been touching her breasts and genitals while she slept. This allegedly happened on multiple occasions. In 2006, Jim Bob told police that in July, 2002 Josh admitted to fondling a minor’s breasts while she slept. “James said that they disciplined (redacted, Josh) after this incident.” The family did not alert authorities.
The police report reveals that Jim Bob Duggar “met with the elders of his church and told them what was going on” rather than contacting law enforcement. Josh was then sent to “Christian counseling” for three months, which, according to his mother’s admission, was not any sort of licensed counseling facility:
Once again, the religious right's obsession with sexuality, and the control there of, is revealed as deeply twisted. No surprise to those of us who have paid attention through the years, and yet far too many typical responses blame or silence the victims of Josh Duggar's molestations, while excusing his actions and his parent's cover up of the same.
In faith communities like the Duggars, abuse victims are encouraged to be filled with grace. It’s not that simple
As usual, the victims of sexual abuse are being called to forgive and forget, to give grace, while none is being given to them. In the Duggar's Biblical Patriarchy, all things masculine have worth and are redeemable, while all things feminine are not.

Girls and women are reduced to property, to things, whose only virtue is in submitting to men, no matter how harmful those men may be.  

   ...God reveals Himself as masculine, not feminine.
    God ordained distinct gender roles for man and woman as part of  the created order.
    A husband and father is the head of his household, a family leader, provider, and protector.
    Male leadership in the home carries over into the church: only men are permitted to hold the ruling office in the church. A God-honoring society will likewise prefer male leadership in civil and other spheres.
    Since the woman was created as a helper to her husband, as the bearer of children, and as a “keeper at home”, the God-ordained and proper sphere of dominion for a wife is the household and that which is connected with the home.....

According to Rachel Held Evans, the biblical patriarchy movement is "committed to preserving as much of the patriarchal structure of Old Testament law as possible."[8]

Apparently the defining characteristic of god and men is the phallus, and the right to wield it. In an act of supreme hubris, the Biblical Patriarchal movement compresses a supposedly infinite god into the size and shape of a penis. That is the supreme definition of God and man. Not empathy. Not insight. Not creativity. Not caring. Not wisdom. Mind boggling, isn't it?

But in the world of the Phallus Cult, anything goes. Including molesting young girls, even one's sisters. Including excusing it all away, because - "God."

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Wed May 20, 2015 at 08:14 AM PDT

Sacrifice

by Andrea D

Reposted from Andrea DiMaggio by Andrea D

Sacrifice
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http://www.youtube.com/...
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DD-375 U.S.S. Downes, Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941... Mid-morning...

 “Jenkins….get your fucking head down!” Seaman First Class Pantangelo yelled as a round whizzed past the boy’s head and slammed into the empty cartridge pail, sending it flying off the deck and into the water below. The kid jumped sideways, nearly going over the edge until the strong hands of the older man grabbed his shirt collar, nearly ripping it off.

“Smitty and I got this gun… and Kowalski needs someone to feed him ammo…get yer ass up to the Bofors and help him out.”

 The boy remained half-seated on the deck until the same hands that had saved him moments before pulled him off the deck and to his feet. A sudden shove was accompanied by a fatherly smile as he was pushed toward the other gun emplacement only yards away. He ran up the ladder and turned to wave to the older man when a burst of gunfire slammed into the deck just below and back down where he had been standing only moments before. He stood stock still, staring at the flying debris torn up off the deck by the gunfire and tried to peer through the haze.

“Hey….fuck it, kid…they’re gone.” The boy fought back bitter tears as a man behind him shouted.

“Get up here, kid….NOW!”

 The boy turned around and saw the Bos’n waving frantically at him. He ran the last few yards and grabbed the ammo. He watched in paralyzing panic as another Jap plane strafed the decks of Cassin and the Pennsylvania; both in dry-dock next to the Downes, tearing up both ships before flying low over him and Kowalski. He could hear the shouts of the sailors aft of his location who watched a Zero catch fire just as it flew over the Downes. The plane held altitude long enough clear the ship, slamming into a gas truck sitting on the dock a hundred or so yards away from their slip. The plane and truck disintegrated in a ball of fire that engulfed a pile of supplies.

Kowalski turned around and breathed out a sigh. The attack appeared to be over. The fire crew was just now putting out the flames on the main deck, and the sounds of the hell surrounding them were dying down even as the smoke continued to billow all across the bay. He looked at his watch. 10:07 AM. He had been at it at this position alone for nearly two hours after manning another gun further forward.

“Hey, kid...you did good.”

He turned to smile in congratulation at the new recruit; the boy had only arrived at Pearl a few days before; barely out of boot camp. But the boy didn’t answer; he was flat on his back stretched out on the deck. Holes in his shoulder and leg bore witness to his silence. But the boy looked as peaceful as anything Kowalski had seen. He was smiling; his face was nestled on a cartridge belt and his eyes were focused on his service cap, which had fallen off his head, exposing his short dirty blond hair.

“Oh, shit.”

Kowalski looked around and noticed an almost eerie calm, as if the harbor was trying to quiet itself for the sake of the survivors of the attack. He noticed two things; a letter clutched in the boy’s hand and a picture pressed tight against the inside of the kid’s cap. He picked up the cap after gently removing the letter from the boy’s grasp. He looked quickly at the picture; a girl of about seventeen or so and her boyfriend, apparently, walking down a country lane; both were smiling. Kowalski shook his head and sighed before unfolding the letter.

April 12, 1941

Dear Gerrie,

I know you don’t feel like this will ever work. You don’t have to go away. You can still change your mind. Please think of us when you get this, please. I never knew just how much I loved you until you went away. My cousin moved to New Zealand last year to help my grandpa with the farm, and she says we can move there, okay? Just think about it. I miss you so much, and I wish you would just come home. We can work it out. I look forward to seeing you at Christmas. I love you so much! XOXOXO Love,

Darryl


Kowalski looked again at the photo. The girl was what his grandmother might have called striking; her way of saying she could be prettier, but Darryl seemed to love the girl a lot; more than Kowalski could say about himself and his own girlfriend. He smiled, thinking at least that the girl would know her boyfriend had died helping to save his shipmates.

It was only then that he took a long hard look at the picture once again as his gaze went back and forth between the smiles in the photo and the angelic look on the boy's face. He stifled a sob as he shook his head before placing the photo under his own service cap, almost reverently. The letter was folded and inserted in the back pocket of his jeans.

Kowalski wasn’t a much of a regulation or spit and polish sailor; it took a lot to get him to feel connected to the century and a half plus traditions, but he bit his lip and saluted the boy before walking up the deck.

“Hey, McKenna?” Kowalski yelled as the chief walked up to the gun and blew out a relieved breath.

“Fuck, Kowalski, whatya want, a fucking medal.” Kowalski shook his head and then looked down at the fallen boy.

“Jesus and Mary, no….he’s just a fucking baby.”

The man began to weep; even in the midst the routine of horror, there are some things a grown man cannot abide, and the death of a child is one of them. McKenna had a son on the Raleigh, and he could only hope that his own boy made it out okay.

“That’s not all.”

 Kowalski took his service cap off and showed the picture to the older man. McKenna looked at it and down at the body on the deck. He fought back tears as he knelt down. Speaking softly, he offered up a silent prayer, meaning to talk to the Padre as soon as possible for the boy’s last rites. And then he did something unheard of for a Chief Petty Officer, but perhaps entire

ly understandable for a father worried about his own child. He leaned further down and kissed the boy’s forehead. He stripped down to his tee and placed his shirt over the boy’s face, but not before gazing at the boy’s soft peaceful countenance.

“Hey, McKenna? XO wants to know about casualties? You got anybody hit?” A voice came from the deck above. Kowalski waved to the chief as if to say, ‘I’ve got this.’

“Pantangelo and Smitty at the gun over there took it for good,” he said, pointing down the deck.

“And just one here. Jenkins!” He stifled a sob.

“Who? Jenkins? Aw fuck!”

“Yeah….”

“We gotta have volunteers for duty here, and you two just volunteered.” The man above them laughed at the typical service humor, even more ironic in light of the fact that the men would have borne their mates with gladness. Looking down he shook his head and touched his chest with his palm as if to apologize before walking back down the deck. McKenna looked at Kowalski and the two nodded simultaneously; saluting the boy’s body as McKenna spoke one last time before bearing the boy away in solemn silence.

“So long, Seaman Second Class Gerry Jenkins. We hardly knew ye, but it was a privilege and that’s a fact. God and Mary go with you!"

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http://www.youtube.com/...
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Remember...

Davenport, Iowa, December 13, 1941

Alison sat on the couch sipping a late cup of morning coffee. Daryl was due over at about eleven or so, which left her enough time to either finish the chapter on Ferber’s latest or start a letter to her baby brother. She chose the latter.

As she got up she dislodged the large sleeping red tabby that clung to her thigh; she was glad she was wearing the gabardine slacks her brother handed ‘up’ to her since she planned on doing some work around the house that morning. She found her pen on the secretary along with some stationary, but moved back to the couch along with the photo album she used as a portable desk.

“Let’s see…what should we tell Gerrie, Wilkie?”

The cat raised his head from his already resumed posture of sleep and she swore he was grinning. The name was playful; her parents had always been staunch Republicans and the cat was almost homage to their memory even if she did vote for Roosevelt.

“Hmmm….Dear Gerrie... It’s awfully cold here. I envy you the weather at least. Daryl says it’s positively dreamy there, but we still can’t wait for you to come home. I’m glad at least that you might be able to leave early since Mommy…”

Alison was at least glad that she hadn’t started writing; the writing paper absorbed the few tears that fell before she wiped her face with the sleeve of her shirt.

“Why does God do that? She was so young…” Alison looked at the picture of the three of them that sat on the mantel. She and Gerrie had only each other now. Well…Gerrie had Darryl. Maybe she’d find someone, but who’d want to marry a ‘spinster’ at 31 when all the dolls had the boys' attention; even those her own age.

She placed the pen on the end table next to the ink bottle and set the album and paper on the coffee table in front of her. The cat took that as a sign and moved over. He half-hopped into her lap and began nudging and treading on her thigh once again; even the gabardine didn’t protect her this time and she flinched as his claws penetrated both fabric and skin.

“Ow, Wilkie!” She swatted him playfully on the rump and he hopped off the couch and ran into the kitchen with a loud ‘rrrowwww!’ Alison was about the return her attention to Edna and company when a knock came at the door. Daryl wasn’t due over for another hour or so. She rose and went answer the knock. Opening it, she found a very nervous looking man about her age who was holding a telegram in his hand.

“Ma’am?” He tipped his cap politely, but his demeanor remained nervous. She would come to remember the look on his face; sadness beyond his time, she would say.

“Yes?”

“Am I at the right place?” He asked with a quiver in his voice. She sensed that this might be his first day on the job. The flap of his pouch was open, and she could see that he likely had a very full day. It wasn’t his first day, but it was the first of too many deliveries just like the telegram he held in his hand.

“For what?” She said, but her smiled seemed to diffuse his nervousness at least enough to continue.

“Oh…I’m sorry. Is this the residence of Mrs. Agnes Jenkins?” Alison’s eyes widened just a bit, and she nodded.”

“Oh…” He looked very surprised, which actually surprised Alison as well. Before he could speak, she interrupted.

“I’m sorry. My mother passed earlier this year. I’m her daughter Alison. Can I help you?

“I’m sorry,” he continued with another exchanged nervous pleasantry.

“I guess…they didn’t tell me what to do if the party….expired”

“Go ahead…what’s your name?”

“Jimmy Falcone, Miss.”

“Go ahead, Jimmy.”

 His look seemed to indicate a strong reluctance so she nodded and smiled. He didn’t return the look but gazed downward instead at the piece of paper in his hand. And his eyes welled with tears. He looked up at her and took a deep breath and began to read.

“WUX Washington DC December 10, 1941, Mrs. Agnes D. Jenkins, 1278 Parson Street, Davenport, Iowa.” He paused.

“The Secretary of War desires that I tender his deepest sympathy to you in the loss of your son, Gerald A. Jenkins, Seaman Second Class, Radioman, U.S.S. Downes…”

 His voice began to crack. Alison put her hand over her mouth and started to sob. Jimmy was completely at a loss, so he did what he knew had to be the only thing he could do. He pulled Alison into a hug and patted her back as she shook in his arms.

“I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.” He almost would have appeared to be apologizing for his part in the unwanted delivery of the message, but his own tears reflected the sadness he felt for the girl in his arms. After what felt like an eternity to both of them, Alison pulled away.

“I….I have some coffee…would you like some?”

 Jimmy shook his head reluctantly. At another time and another place; even then he was sorely tempted to place the bag with the remaining telegrams on her front porch and join her.

“I…I have to get going.”

He pointed to the pouch. Alison stared at the many messages that peeked out of the pouch and realized she was just one of many that day. She shook her head and her face turned an extremely embarrassed shade of red, wondering why she had made his job so personal to her. She reached out and shook his hand and came away with the telegram which she grasped tightly in a fist.

“Thank you.” She paused and wondered at the awkward and nearly foolish sentiment of her comment until he nodded and half frowned; he knew that she was glad at least that someone cared. He bit his lip as tears began to fall. Nodding once again, he smiled before turning and walking out the front door....

Alison had barely contained herself when she heard another knock. She rushed up and opened it, hoping to find that the kind man had returned, only to find Daryl standing on the porch instead. He smiled as she remained silent. Shaking his head, he stepped inside.

“So, Ali, my dear, what’s up?” She held up the telegram in her hand, crumpled. His look grew puzzled until she said at last.

“Honey….Daryl?” He shook his head no, almost defiant as she finished.

“Gerrie’s gone, Daryl….she’s gone.”

Daryl began to weep, and Alison held him, stroking his hair; wishing she could ease his pain even as her own threatened to tear her heart in two. Her gaze fell upon the mantel once again. Two other pictures adorned the room. One of a young man and a young woman walking down a country road; a greeting card moment of two in love.

And a smaller older photo of two little girls sitting at a small folding table having their tea with a few stuffed animals. She shook her head at the supreme loss and pulled Daryl closer and cried as hard as she would ever cry. And she would remember...

In loving memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. I hope my work does justice to that sacrifice and to honor them on this coming Memorial Day, May, 25, 2015
_______________

The Pacific
From the Miniseries
Composed by Hans Zimmer

I'll Be Seeing You
composed by
Sammy Fain and Irving Kahal
performed by
The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra
featuring Francis Albert Sinatra

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Reposted from Kerry Eleveld by 2thanks
A new 113-page report from the Human Rights Watch has found that almost two thirds of service members who report being sexually assaulted face some form of retaliation. Worse yet, whistleblowers are 12 times more likely to experience retaliation than their attackers are to be convicted of a sex offense. In some cases, victims said the retribution they faced for reporting the assault was harder to weather than dealing with the assault itself.
“Survivors have little recourse if they experience retaliation and few of those who retaliate are held accountable,” the report said. “While reporting rates have improved dramatically in recent years, the positive trend won’t continue if victims see that those who report their assaults experience retaliation and that no action is taken to address the problem.” ...

A female member of the Coast Guard said she was assaulted by her supervisor during her first deployment in fall 2012, and suffered retaliation at nearly every stage of the reporting and judicial process. At first, she said her peers shunned her and believed a superior had encouraged those in her unit to alienate her. Later, superiors countered by lodging sexual assault charges against her, which, while ultimately dismissed, resulted in action to discharge her.

“I think that our service, the way they treated me, it definitely pushed me to the very brink,” she said. “By trying to do the right thing, I put myself in this situation.”
While the report showed that rates of reporting were up, Human Rights Watch only found two instances in which retaliators were punished for their actions.

Great, the military is inviting people to risk their careers but doing nothing to protect them once they do—in fact, the Pentagon released data earlier this month showing that incident reports had risen 11 percent since last year. The DOD report also revealed that retaliation was a real problem for victims, though the military seems to have little idea of how to remedy the situation.

“We’re not making enough progress on countering retaliation,” Mr. Carter said. “The report makes it crystal clear that we have to do more.”
Discuss

Sat May 09, 2015 at 04:03 AM PDT

No, Not Happy Mother's Day

by MrsCaptJack

Reposted from MrsCaptJack by 2thanks Editor's Note: Trigger warnings. -- 2thanks

This has to have a trigger warning, even for me and it's my story written by me.  Graphic sexual abuse is detailed.  Please be responsible for your own well-being.

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Reposted from zenofmcconnell by 2thanks
This week the Louisville Courier-Journal broke news that Marilyn Thomas, the college girlfriend of James Comer (Comer is Kentucky's Agriculture Commissioner and a Republican candidate for Governor) had abused her in college 20-some years ago.

The Courier article had some of the story.

This week I published her entire letter (it's four pages in PDF) and I consider it to be credible, compelling, heartfelt, and chilling. Ms. Thomas has exhibited many indicia of crediblity, including, she's a professional success, well-liked in her community, a good reputation for truthfulness and VERY reluctant to come forward.

If you're following the Kentucky gubernatorial primary, this is a must read.

The letter is linked at our blog.
The Marilyn Thomas Letter

Discuss
Reposted from Christian Dem in NC by Christian Dem in NC

possible triggers follow

For the last week, I've found it impossible to get a horrible case of child abuse in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, out of my head.  Even though Brandy Kangas and Scott Suggs left their kids locked in a room 24-7 and fed them through a gate, they got a suspended six-year sentence.  According to Spotsylvania County Commonwealth's Attorney William Neely, an independent who has held the post since 1988, Virginia law gave him no other option but to ask for a suspended sentence because he didn't think he could prove the kids were physically harmed since they appeared well-nourished--and under Virginia law, you supposedly have to prove a child is physically harmed in order to win a child abuse conviction.  Never mind they've had no contact with the outside world, and show signs of PTSD--especially around locked doors.

This is as craven an act by a prosecutor as I've ever seen.  Fortunately, there's a chance to hold Neely to account.  While gathering research for a petition demanding Neely's resignation, I found out that Neely has an opponent in this November's election--Travis Bird.  He posted a response to Neely's explanation of his actions on his Facebook page.

At the end of the day, by placing blame on the laws as written, the impression that is left on our citizens and most certainly on those who would abuse children is that Virginia, and more specifically Spotsylvania, is soft on child abuse. Our job is not always easy and it does require tough decisions; however, I cannot and do not agree with the outcome of this case. As your Commonwealth's Attorney, I would be a zealous advocate for the enforcement of these laws and for any changes that need to be made to these laws.
Based on his Twitter feed, Bird is a Republican.  But from what I've been able to dig up, Spotsylvania County is crimson-red.  For those who don't know, it's halfway between Richmond and Washington, and completely surrounds the sapphire-blue city of Frdericksburg.  It's gone Democratic in a presidential election exactly ONCE since 1948.  In other words, it's not likely a Democrat will win here.

But if there is any area in which partisanship shouldn't matter, it's protecting children.  Simply put, Neely's failure to ensure two monsters go to prison where they belong is a firing offense.  The most meaningful way to protest this is to support the guy running against him.

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Wed Apr 08, 2015 at 11:19 AM PDT

Never Assume She's Lying

by anb1972

Reposted from Mean Progressive by Avilyn Editor's Note: *****Trigger Warning***** for description of domestic violence, but all in all, a worthy diary. -- Avilyn

I was in an abusive relationship 23 years ago. He was a monster. When I finally got away from him I didn't date again for 17 years because I couldn't figure out what signs I had missed and didn't want to make the same mistakes again.

I don't like to ever think of myself as a victim because I have always been very independent and outspoken. I have always taken care of myself and have sincerely, and quite naively, never feared any person or situation. Because he was actually crazy, however, I didn't defend myself. I was pregnant when the abuse started and my desire to never make things worse, coupled with the understanding that his rage had no limits, was the only reason that I never tried to fight back. I doubt anyone who knew me just a few years earlier in high school would have imagined me ending up where I had. But there I was.

He was an absolute puzzle to me. I like to really get to understand people. I am very good at it. There was no understanding him, though. Nothing needed to set him off. He would switch from happy(ish) to violent with no warning. He controlled every aspect of my life. I wasn't allowed to answer the phone or the door. I was not allowed to have company and I was not allowed to go anywhere without him. He would not let me be alone in my home. If I went to the bathroom, he came with me. If I took a bath, he would sit on the toilet the entire time. My family and I became all but estranged. I now understand that all of these are common tactics for abusers. At the time, however, it was beyond my comprehension that a person could behave the way he did.

He liked to taunt me when he was going to hurt me. Sometimes he wouldn't end up hurting me because, I guess, the threat was enough fun for him. Asshole. He often used objects to hit me in the head. He said it didn't leave a mark. I'm sure it did, but my hair covered it. Dickhead. He dragged me through the apartment by my ponytail at 8 months pregnant. He chased me with a hammer. And the night before I had Audrey he actually broke her crib throwing me into it and then pummeled me so many times that my entire left side was bruised when I went to have her the next morning. Motherfucker.

The worst was a couple of weeks later, however. I was not listening to him. I was exhausted and wanted to take a nap. But I wasn't allowed to take a nap in the bedroom because he couldn't see me. I took the baby and went to bed anyway. He kept coming in and peeking around the door and making creepy voices to wake me up. I got pissed and told him to leave me alone. He tore into the room and jumped on top of me on the bed. Audrey was sleeping in the crease of my armpit and he was on my belly. He put his hands around my throat and choked me. I could tell by his eyes that he wasn't going to stop. I kept trying to get him off of me but couldn't. I was thinking that there was no way I could leave Audrey here with him. I was desperate to get away. I needed to get him off of me. I noticed that the white ceiling beyond his head above me was turning blue. I knew that was it.

I woke up. Obviously. But I had no reason to believe that I would. With help, we were able to get away from him that next week. I found a police officer and asked him to take me back to my house and remove my boyfriend because he was abusive. He asked me whether or not my boyfriend lived there. I said that he did but assured him that only my name was on the lease. He asked me if he had lived there longer than 2 weeks. I said that he had and could not believe the direction it seemed this conversation was going. He then asked me if he had ever received a piece of mail at the apartment. I told him that he had. The officer finally told me that my apartment was his legal home and I did not have the right to remove him and make him homeless. He could only take him if he was arresting him. He asked if I had proof of the abuse. He noted that I was neither bruised nor bloody and then asked me if I had any witnesses. I looked at my witness, my 3 week old daughter, and thought, "This has to be a joke."

No joke. He followed me to my apartment and offered me an escort. He said I had 5 minutes to collect all of our things so that we could move out of my home. No shit! This was the law in 1992. And it was 4 days before Christmas. The officer told me that we could go to a homeless shelter if I wanted to and that I could press charges against my abuser in the morning. But, he assured me, without any evidence or witnesses he would not be charged. So, with that encouragement, I left the state.

Last year when the video of Ray Rice knocking his fiancée out was released, someone posted it on Facebook. A friend of mine commented that we had no idea what the woman had done to instigate the situation and suggested we wait until the whole story came out because a lot of women like to try to get attention for saying they have been abused when they really haven't. I knew that people thought that way, but I was offended that someone I had called a friend would say something like that. It was like she betrayed all women. She betrayed me. I was pissed. I was sorry that typing in all caps was the best that I could do because I desperately wanted to get in her face and scream.

There are certainly women who are viscious. When I was pregnant a girl I knew stole my pregnancy test and told her boyfriend she was pregnant so he wouldn't leave her. When I found out I told him the truth. It was the first time I knew of someone doing something so low. I accept that some women will lie for attention or to get back at a man. They exist. They are awful, spiteful people. But to go into any conversation about a woman being abused assuming that they may not have been? That is not only cruel, but its dangerous. You cannot hold every woman accountable for things that other women have done. It is incredibly difficult for a woman to even come forward. There is often a lot of fear, shame, dependency and loneliness in the back of their minds that they have to come to terms with before they can even think about seeking help. No facet of society (and especially any member of the female half of it) can initially question the validity of an abuse declaration. Their protection needs to be the first instinct and action. Any legal violation against the abuser will be investigated and dealt with accordingly. If the investigation finds that she was untruthful, she is an asshole and the law will take care of that, too. But we have to always begin with an instinct to believe and help. The alternative is unthinkable.

I don't have a passive bone in my body. I am tough. I am smart. I am resourceful. I am strong. I am brave. I am responsible. I am independent.

And I was abused. It can happen to anyone. And it does. I am quick to point that out to people when they look for reasons to disbelieve a woman's accusations of abuse. No one knows what is going on in another persons home. My abuser was, quite literally, a sociopath. He could convince anyone that he was a good guy. It was fascinating to watch. The converse, however, was a nightmare to experience.

Discuss

Earlier this week, I told you that Wanda Larson, the social services child protection supervisor from Union County, North Carolina--just south of my home in Charlotte--got an outrageously light "sentence" after pleading guilty to abusing several kids under her care.  Among them was an 11-year-old boy who was chained to the porch in cold weather with a dead chicken around his neck.  Larson was "sentenced" to 17 months in prison and five years' probation.  If that isn't outrageous enough, with credit for time served while awaiting trial for almost two years, she is due to go home as early as Wednesday.

That doesn't sit well with a lot of people around here.  Indeed, Jeremy Bess, a member of the board of the Justice for All Coalition, a child advocacy group in the area, told WCNC-TV in Charlotte that his group is openly hoping for federal intervention.

The Union County District Attorney's office says it didn't send the case to trial for the victim's sake, so he wouldn't have to relive the abuse.

But Bess believes not going to trial is even worse, and now he hopes federal authorities will step in.

"You had a chance to protect the children and you did not do it. Now's the time to give them justice, not to protect them. You can't protect them," he said.

Believe it or not, there actually may be something to this.  One of the reasons people are outraged that Larson got so little jail time is that prosecutors seemed to overlook the appalling conditions in which those kids lived.  When sheriff's deputies rescued the kids, they found feces on the floor of Larson's house, and no running water.  Indeed, the smell was so awful that it still lingered two days later.  

Prosecutors believe that Larson's boyfriend, Dorian Harper, was the primary abuser, and that Larson knew about the abuse and did nothing.  Larson admitted as much; one of the charges to which she pleaded was willful dereliction of her duties as a child-protection worker.  But you can't blame the squalor in which those kids had to live solely on Harper.  Apparently Bess thinks that since Larson was a DSS worker, allowing such conditions to exist amounted to a violation of the kids' civil rights by a state government employee.  This seems to be a question worth asking.  If a child protection worker knows or has reason to know about this kind of abuse and willfully ignores it--or worse, actively contributes to it--does that rise to the level of a civil rights violation?  

I'm reminded of the tragic case of Jeremiah Oliver, the Massachusetts toddler who disappeared in September 2013.  However, nobody knew about it until December.  It turns out that the social worker assigned to Jeremiah's case received a blizzard of phone calls expressing concern for Jeremiah, but nothing was done.  Jeremiah's remains were finally discovered last April.

One thing gives me pause about going this route.  First, will it address the larger systemic dysfunction present in so many child protection agencies?  All too often, these agencies are chronically understaffed, and the case workers are severely underpaid.  If you do make a federal case out of this, you'd have to have pretty ironclad proof that the negligence was willful, and not just a case of being overloaded.  Still, it's an idea worth considering.

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