Stopping Domestic Abusers Starts At Home

by Diane Dimond on March 28, 2011

Abused Women Must Speak Out & Get Out

Oh boy, am I ever going to take heat for this. But it must be said.

There are some women caught up in the awful throes of domestic abuse who are to blame. Domestic abuse occurs because they allow it.

The women of whom I speak stay when they should leave. They repeatedly call police to come to their rescue after their partner’s anger erupts. Then, they repeatedly refuse to press charges. These abused and humiliated women forget the panic they felt at the moment they scrambled to the phone and dialed 9-11 for help. They imagine they can’t possibly make it in life without their abusive mate. They’re caught in a terrible cycle of co-dependent violence.

Abusers Escalate the Violence - Some Murder

The harsh reality is that when one of these women fails to follow through by pressing charges she may be sealing a death warrant for others who will cross paths with the lout later.

Case in point: Jeffrey Maxwell of Corsicana, Texas. In 1987, he was arrested for slitting his wife’s throat. He never went to trial because Martha Martinez Maxwell returned home and declined to cooperate with prosecutors. Five years later Martha mysteriously disappeared.

Now – 24 years after the vicious attack on his wife – Mr. Maxwell is once again in trouble for assaulting a woman. Police traced his car to the home of a kidnap victim. When they arrived at Maxwell’s house to question him officers found the missing woman who had been shackled, sexually abused and badly beaten during her 13 days in captivity. Maxwell, known for his charity work and as an officer in his local Kiwanis Club, is now charged with kidnapping and rape.

If only Martha had pressed charges! Police now suspect she was murdered by Maxwell and they’re trying to prove that. They also believe he is to blame for the disappearance of a third woman, Amelia Smith, who went missing in 2000 and is also presumed dead.

Officer Alain Schaberger Died on the Job

Another example: George Villanueva is a career thug with 28 priors including three open cases of battering his girlfriend, Kim Dykstra. Police in Brooklyn, New York responded at least a dozen of Kim’s calls for help. Every time Villanueva was arrested and jailed for assaulting her Kim signed an affidavit saying she would not testify against him. In mid-March Kim called police a final time saying George was threatening to kill her. When police moved in to arrest Villanueva a violent scuffle on his raised stoop ended with veteran officer Alain Schaberger being shoved over a nine foot high railing. He broke his neck and died a short time later. Villanueva is now charged with aggravated murder.

If only Kim had found the courage and self-esteem to press charges!

Every cop on the beat will tell you the most dangerous call they get involves domestic violence, the most heartbreaking DV calls are the ones that include children. Anger mixed with passion can be a deadly combination. In candid moments officers might admit they’d like to ignore the 911 calls from women like Martha and d

Victims Need Compassion - Victims Can Help Themselves

Kim, those who routinely flake out when it comes time to testify.

Please, don’t accuse me of being unsympathetic to victims. I am not. As a reporter and in my personal life I’ve interacted with battered and terrified women. I know their plight and the lack of services offered them when they finally decide to stand up for themselves and their children. I know the law often considers a spousal beating a minor infraction.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance wrote recently, “With so many of these cases … the abuser faces the same sentence on his hundredth misdemeanor conviction as he did on his first. A punch to the face month after month is (considered) the same level crime as not paying a subway fare.”

That’s got to change. We have to instill a system-wide attitude adjustment on how we handle habitual batterers. A three-strikes policy might be a fine solution. But the women at the center of this horrible cycle must also take personal responsibility.

What If Police Just Stopped Responding?

Society cannot remove an adult woman from a perilous domestic situation. She must walk out on her own resolved to find a better way of life. Can we do a better job of helping her find the courage to leave and a safe place to go? Yes. But more educational opportunities, job training and child care won’t help until the woman helps herself.

After he was charged with murder Villanueva told the New York Daily News he wasn’t guilty of killing officer Schaberger. From behind bars at Rikers Island he cockily said, “The only thing I’m guilty of is domestic abuse.” As if beating a woman is really nothing much to worry about.

The most immediate way to stop serial abusers like Maxwell and Villanueva is for their punching bags to take a permanent walk away. The best long term solution is for the women to cooperate with prosecutors and for judges to throw the book at the abusers.

That’s really the best chance we have to stop the cycle of violence from being handed down to future generations.



{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane March 28, 2011 at 11:06 am

Facebook Friend Danielle Stewart writes:

“These women who can’t seem to get away from the abuse usually suffer from very low self esteem. Their self worth is low so they cannot see that they are worth so much more. You attract what you think you are worth. They are usually from abusive families or have been in verbally abusive relationships all their lives. It is so hard for them to see the light when they are so in the darkness for so long. I wish they could see themselves as GOD sees them. This would break the cycle.”


Diane March 28, 2011 at 11:14 am

Facebook Friend Patricia Alder writes:

“Very insightful..and very true.”


Diane March 28, 2011 at 11:28 am

Facebook Friend Kate Coe writes:

“I think there’s also the cycle of abuse, tearful begging/promises to reform, more abuse and both the victim and abuser tell themselves that it’s “passionate” and dramatic and emotional. The drama gives both parties an escape from every-dayness and feeling ordinary.”


Bluewaters March 28, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I have to agree with this entire story but from a male perspective that may not mean as much. “Co- dependency, low self esteem.” Easy for me to say.

To quote Diane here is the heart of this piece which sums up it all:

“Society cannot remove an adult woman from a perilous domestic situation. She must walk out on her own resolved to find a better way of life. Can we do a better job of helping her find the courage to leave and a safe place to go? Yes. But more educational opportunities, job training and child care won’t help until the woman helps herself.” End quote.

Anyone interested in a date with Chris Brown?


Tracy March 28, 2011 at 2:33 pm

I need to take offense with the second paragraph. Victims of domestic violence often don’t realize that what they’re going through is wrong until after they are able to step outside of their situation. There are also many reasons that a victim can’t leave — lack of money; belief that their abuser is just “sick, and if he had cancer, I wouldn’t abandon him”; religious or ethnic beliefs; fear of retaliation. It’s too easy to make a judgment from the outside, so what is needed is compassion for those who are still in their situations and not condemnation that they’re giving “their serial abusers a pass”.


Diane March 28, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Sorry, Tracy. I my mind you don’t get to have it both ways: Repeatedly call the cops to rescue you – but then blow off the justice system 3,4, 6 or a dozen times by refusing to testify. To refuse to participate in the justice system the victim is denying the abuser any chance at rehabilitation. They are just insuring that the cycle of violence will continue and in many, many cases ESCALATE until someone is murdered. ~ DD


Tracy March 28, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Actually, those who DO call are often co-abusive, but it’s the ones who won’t call because they are afraid of retaliation, are the faceless/voiceless victims. In working with survivors and victims of domestic violence, the ones who are truly in a dangerous situation won’t say anything. They prefer to not have anyone know the hell their lives are.


Diane March 28, 2011 at 5:11 pm

I know that terrible cycle, Tracy. I had a family member caught up in it – had her and the kids come live with us – got them settled in a new life/job/school. In the middle of the night she packed up and went back to him. This, after he nearly killed her. Its a terrible thing. That’s why I’m so intent on promoting cooperation with police for these victims. After more than a dozen calls to cops shouldn’t the woman in NY have learned that it only gets worse? Then, he kills a cop. So so tragic. I pray for all these vics and their kids. ~ DD


Diane March 28, 2011 at 2:49 pm

DD Web Site Reader Jane Shayne writes:

“Hi Diane –
Well, here we’re quibbling over semantics: “Sometimes Victims ARE to Blame” is a bit misleading. True victims of crimes are NEVER to blame for the atrocities committed by a perpetrator. I think what you’re saying here is that even victims must realize they have an obligation to act responsibly and to come forward, participate in the legal process, take action to prevent further perpetration of the same, horrendous crime. Yes, we all must own responsibility for doing our best to heal ourselves and protect others – even when the process is painful – but responsibility differs from ‘blame’.”


Facebook User March 28, 2011 at 2:52 pm

All I head to do was read the first paragraph & I’m already livid with your remark. You don’t know the first thing of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse isn’t just spousal abuse, there’s also the abusive parent. So how do you stop an abusive parent when you are under 18? Have you ever had a mother throw you into the corner of the kitchen & proceed to beat the sknot out of you to tell you that you are stupid & will never amount to anything? When you are six years of age, how do you stop your abusive mother from abusing you? I remember going to school w/bruises on my body because my mother beat the heck out of me! You don’t know the first thing about abuse. Are you going to sit there & tell a six year child to leave the house because their mother is a bipolar abusive woman? I had an abusive mother & an abusive exboyfriend who both treated me like trash. Sure, I left the both of them. But I guess you are going to tell me that I deserved to get beat up by my mother & I deserved the deragatory remarks the exbf made about me? Right. You don’t have a clue, lady.


Diane March 28, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Mskrystin – I think the anger that has built up inside you is spilling out over me. I’m sorry you took it the way you did.
My column had nothing to do with abusive parents – although I’ve written plenty about that topic as well. This column was about what happens when victims don’t take advantage of the situation to testify against their ADULT abusers once the police have come and made an arrest. The abuser is in jail – all they have to do is testify in court about the violence done to them (although I know that’s easier said than done)
I hope you find some peace in your life. ~ DD


Cheryl March 28, 2011 at 4:21 pm

It is truly unfortunate for victims of domestic abuse when people who do not have the knowledge and experience to understand the psychology of domestic abuse spout off publicly like this. Is self-esteem a factor? Certainly. However, self-esteem alone cannot solve the issue. Domestic abuse is not something that suddenly occurs overnight. Pattern abusers operate in incidious ways to break down and ultimately brainwash their victims. Many abuse victims aren’t able to press charges because they have been conditioned over time to believe things like – I’m responsible for the treatment I am getting because I do x, y, z; If I press charges, my abuser will harm or kill my (fill in the blank – child, parent, pet, me); if I press charges and my abuser goes to prison, I will be left homeless and penniless and have nowhere to turn for help, etc. Many victims call the police because they are afraid for their lives within that moment. But when push comes to shove, their abuser has conditioned them to believe that more harm will come to them (the victim) should they pursue any kind of legal action. Because of the brainwashing process, it can take something much bigger than just an individual’s self-esteem to break through that conditioning.

I get the point you are trying to make – if the victim isn’t willing to press charges, they may be setting someone else up to be harmed by the abuser. Many victims of abuse see only themselves as being abused and many abusers (dare I say MOST) only abuse their significant other/parent/child but are charming and courteous to everyone else. Oftentimes, the people close to the abuser think they are terrific and the vicim knows that they would never believe stories the victim may tell.

With no actual support system available to them except possibly some obscure shelter that may or may not have room for the victim, their kids and animals, etc., it takes a lot more than just a dose of self-esteem to be able to step away. Just like with child abuse, the abuse victim may be so isolated that they would rather stay with the ‘devil they know’ rather than have to risk a life of unknowns, especially when you are talking about possible loss of home and financial security. Even if they aren’t isolated physically, their abuser may have isolated them psychologically – by convincing others that the victim is actually in need of mental health assistance or otherwise a danger/not to be believed.

The unfortunate part of your article isn’t just the misinformation, it is the blame you heap on victims of abuse. It is my humble opinion that if you are going to spout off about a topic that it is your responsibility to get yourself educated about that topic before spewing misinformation. Abuse covers all socioeconomic groups, education levels, race/ethnic backgrounds, etc. No one is immune. And a lack of self-esteem, while always be a good thing for anyone, is not the problem in domestic abuse situations.


Diane March 28, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Cheryl – I am all too familiar with the topic, whether you care to believe it or not. This column was to shine a different spotlight on the problem….not JUST that victims of abuse are caught up in a terrifying cycle – but that when they fail to act they endanger others in society like the police officer who comes (again!) to try to help them. This brief column was not designed to encompass every facet of this long standing phenomenon. I think we can both agree (as I wrote) that we need to develop better support systems for these victims so that when they do finally reach that point where they can walk away there are adequate support systems in place to truly help them. ~ DD


Calla March 28, 2011 at 4:42 pm

It’s a commonly accepted myth that victims “let” their abusers abuse them, so I have some compassion for the souls inexperienced in domestic abuse who swallow that myth. Women give in for many reasons. The ones who don’t show for court, drop ordes of protection, etc. often do so in the effort to damp down their abusers’ rage and avoid that bullet or blade. Pursue the order or the charges and he will find a way to murder you. Let it go, and maybe he won’t. It doesn’t help when their sisters, friends, bosses, whoever went through the court and were blown off. Those women find out too late that if a man will kill because they don’t submit, he will eventually kill because they did. He’s simply a murderer.

No reply necessary, I do not wish to debate this. Society has to start looking at the obvious and not try to hide behind explanations that don’t make sense.


Diane March 28, 2011 at 5:42 pm

DD Web Site Readers from Crime Survivors write:

“CSI wants to be clear on something. Victims of Crime are not the ones to ever, ever be blamed. If you have never been victimized, you cannot nor should you ever question, shame, blame or share negative comments unless you have walked in the shoes of a victim of a crime. And if you have walked in our shoes you would never ever question, blame or shame because you would know what it is to be victimized.”


David March 28, 2011 at 6:51 pm

As you are someone in a position to talk to a wide variety of people and who many take your words as an official point of view on your subjects may I offer you my view as I am a survivor of multiple abusers and someone for who it took some time to finally open my eyes and mind to understand the dynamics behind Domestic Violence and Abuse.

First of all, it is time to stop presenting abuse as a male on female only basis. Many men are being abused who are afraid to come forward due to the humiliation we are subjected to from police, hospitals, shelters and courts. Domestic Violence and Abuse needs to be “someone who chooses to abuse another” and take the sex of the abuser and the victim of that abuse, out of the definition of what is abuse. Whether a victim is same sex as abuser or opposite, gay or straight, to effectively educate your audience, you need to start showing it as gender neutral and stop the stereotypical discription.

The entire system needs to be able to protect those who seek it, for the states to enforce Orders of Protection to where they actually protect the victims and not have to wait until the abuser walks through the piece of paper and harms or kills the victim for trying to put distance between themselves and their abuser. The states need to better support the shelter system so that the victims have safe haven and shelter from their abuser. So many different ethnic, spiritual populations around the world see abuse as a normal way of life and therefore support it instead of trying to end it.

I am sorry that you have to be directly impacted by Domestic Violence and Abuse within your family and I hope that either you or someone who better understands the dynamics can give her enough truthful and factual information so that she may see a way to get away from her abuser. Until a victim can understand the psychological aspects of abuse they cannot fathom why or when they should or could leave.

I am a survivor of Domestic Violence and Abuse, I have had a woman stand in front of me with a butcher knife to my throat with empty, emotionless eyes. I have been turned away from help because too many people saw it as only male against female.

I hope that all of the responses you have gotten open your eyes and mind to the actual width and depth of the torment which is abuse. Please understand that unless you have actually lived with abuse and have successfully escaped abuse, very few actually have the slightest clue to what it actually encompasses.

Thank you for taking the time to read this e-mail.


Diane March 28, 2011 at 7:06 pm

I’m so glad you wrote. You are exactly right that domestic violence victims come in all different sexes and sexual orientations. Its always good to be reminded. Interestingly, in your letter to me, in the fourth paragraph, you too fall back on describing a victim as “She”…easy to slip,isn’t it?
To make it very clear to all those writing – I’m not spouting off in a vacuum. I have (as you put it, David) “lived with abuse and have successfully escaped abuse.” Been there done that. In addition, I’ve taken in a relative to was trying to escape it and failed when she went back to her abusive husband.
Please – all of you who write – do not underestimate what I’ve been through in my life if you find fault or omissions with this column.~ DD


David March 29, 2011 at 8:22 am

The reason I said “she” in the forth paragraph is because I was referring to your situation and it was your sister was it not?

I understand also that the idea behind this article was to bring to light how many victims do not take advantage of the situation to free themselves and testify to put their abusers away. The answer to that is, because they are completely unable to think straight at that time. It takes months to years for a victim to finally learn that they can break the conditioning of their abusers and that they actually have the strength to do so.

I have helped many escape abuse, not all have been able to stay away from their abusers as in what happened in your family.
Until the world understands better the depth that an abuser will go to to keep control over their victim, society will not understand what it takes to help victims, to protect victims and give them an honest chance to live free of abuse. Sadly most countries, most religions, most people would rather turn away or offer harmful remedies such as marriage counseling or couples therapy, than to actually see what drives the dynamics of abuse and offer actual help.

I know you have not agreed with much of what you have read in your responses but I do hope that you sit back and reflect on what has transpired with this article and understand that much of what you know is not the reality that we have lived with, suffered with and have broken away from so that we can heal our lives, our bodies and help others who also are trying to escape the violence and abuse.

Everyone’s situation is different, different conditions, different outcomes. The only common thread between all victims and survivors is that at some point we all have had a person or persons, who have used our naivety of how the world really is, and twisted our reality to submit to their control. And until we learn that we have to change ourselves, not the abuser, that nothing will improve in our lives.

Thank you again and have a good week!


Diane March 29, 2011 at 11:15 am

Again, I thank you very kindly for your well articulated and obviously heartfelt message.

I want you to know that I ALWAYS “sit back and reflect” on the comments that come in here – especially those where the writer disagrees with me. Sometimes I’ll write another column admitting I got it wrong, or more fully explaining the topic at hand.

On domestic violence victims I must say that after years – no, DECADES – of sociologists, psychiatrists and social workers studying and recommending courses of action to help those in need, we are still no closer to finding a solution. We are no closer to setting up the infrastructure to accommodate all those who require assistance.

So, with that in mind I believe its time to look at the problem in a completely different way – thus I write what I write in hopes that I can spark a debate to get us off dead center.

Years – no, decades of sympathetic response to these victims hasn’t stopped the flow of those in need. Perhaps now it time to turn our focus to locking up the violent creatures (both male and female) who perpetuate such fear. If we concentrate on getting them out of the picture wouldn’t THAT give tangible hope to victims nationwide? If they saw there was a real means of escaping the bastard, seeing him locked up for 15 or 20 years, wouldn’t they feel more comfortable testifying against them?

Its mighty easy for all of my e-mailers to write in to criticize what I’ve written here, to attack me for stating the obvious (although I concede its not easy to hear) But until women stand up for themselves, press charges against their tormentors and call on society to give them lots more protection than a stupid piece of paper things are not going to change.

I’ve renewed the debate on how to better manage this awful problem. That was my intention.~ DD


lindagal2 March 28, 2011 at 9:22 pm

I’m not sure where to even start with this column. I will say I find it amazing that you find a way to not only blame the victim in abuse cases … but blame *future* victims as well when you trot out the simplistic bromide, “The harsh reality is that when one of these women fails to follow through by pressing charges she may be sealing a death warrant for others who will cross paths with the lout later.”

No Diane. The harsh reality is that the “lout” in question seals that death warrant, not some other woman he beats within an inch of her life.

First off, I take exception to the term “lout” which is defined as “uncouth or oafish.” Given the brutality of domestic violence, “uncouth” seems to grossly minimize the responsibility of the abuser. I also take exception the false analogy you put forth when using your first paragraph to describe “codependence” then juxtaposing that with a man who appears to be a serial killer. You’re deliberately mixing two very different reasons women don’t press charges against abusers. Certainly there are co-dependent women in a cycle of abuse but women victimized by “louts” such as serial murderer Jeffrey Maxwell are not just “co-dependent.” Women in these cases don’t follow through because they know the moment that man gets released on bail he will torture and kill them. (Or maybe he’ll kill their family members.) And what’s really sick here Diane is that you know (or should know) that a restraining order is not worth the paper it’s printed on. You’ve set up a completely false scenario by mixing apples and oranges.

You say that you too have been the victim of domestic abuse and I have no reason to doubt you. However, you show a stunning lack of ability to see beyond the narrowest of definitions of “co-dependent” and certainly don’t seem to understand the isolation and terror most women go through.


Christine March 28, 2011 at 10:52 pm

Sheesh…no clue as to what kind of threat a woman may have hanging over her head if she goes up against a man who could kill her. Particularly when the man will be out of jail in a few hours. This woman shouldn’t be writing about this subject that she clearly doesn’t have a good understanding of.


Diane March 28, 2011 at 11:54 pm

Christine – it is ignorant to think that every man who abuses a woman will “be out of jail in a few hours.” In the case that recently resulted in the death of a NYC police officer prosecutors tried several times to get the victim to testify so they could put her violent boyfriend in jail for a l-o-n-g time (he was a three striker).

There is no excuse for a woman who calls cops 12 times yet who refuses to do anything for herself.


Justin March 28, 2011 at 11:09 pm

Your article seems to center on that you believe that self esteem in abused women can be magically cured by a healthy does of self esteem. Further, it reads as if you think that this dose of self esteem can be taken like a 5 Hour Energy drink, available at most convenience stores and grocery markets. I wonder, since you yourself have been in a physically abusive relationship, if you believe that shot of self esteem would stop a baseball bat, a bullet, a knife or a fist?

Since your article completely sets aside the psychology of abuse victims and how that psychology is built over years, I wonder if you think during the time that Holocaust was taking place, and that Stalin was killing 20 million of his own people, if those people simply needed a shot of self esteem from being killed…and abused before they were killed? Unless of course you don’t view Stalin as being a “lout”, i.e., an abuser?

What about the women who DO press charges and go forward into the court system, who then find the “lout” free on probation (at worst) but before that can happen find their entire life on trial and drug through the mud, much like a rape victim? What about the police officers, prosecutors, and district attorneys who turn a blind eye? Perhaps more importantly, what about those same people who DON’T? If the abuse victim is to blame for the future crimes of their abuser, as you put forth in your article, what about all the other criminals such as murders and rapist who walk or go uncaught? Are those crimes also the fault of their victims? If not, then why not? Would not a healthy dose of self esteem have stopped the cycle from ever being repeated and sustained?

I also wonder, from a psychological standpoint, exactly what your personal self-esteem level is. Many people who come as strong and authoritative and brass as you do in your article and comments to it (which you noted in your first sentence was going to draw heat) are covering for low self-esteem by coming on strongly.

Of course, the saddest part, so far as I am concerned, is that you have a national audience which certainly includes abuse victims and abusers, whom you seek to inform how to change their lives, based on nothing but personal speculation.

The Queen has no clothes on.

Justin Medlin


Diane March 28, 2011 at 11:52 pm

Justin – your condescension is really quite amazing. Really – invoking the Holocaust….shameful.
My column was focused and pointed on the specifics of those who get hurt after people (yes victims) fail to put violent abusers behind bars. Try as you might to convince me otherwise I will never agree that victims don’t bear some responsibility.
Ask yourself a question about the NY police officer who recently lost his life on the 12th call by a woman who always refused to testify against her abuser: DOES SHE BEAR *ANY* RESPONSIBILITY IN THAT POLICEMAN’S DEATH? Of course, the violent boyfriend is primarily to blame…but did she have NO part in calling the police (yet again!) for help when she repeatedly failed to help herself?
Mere continued sympathy for these victims doesn’t help them pull themselves out of their dire situations – and it doesn’t help the perps who need rehabilitation too.
I know you likely will not agree – DD


Diane March 29, 2011 at 11:43 am

Huffington Post Reader rtgmath writes:

“Well said and much needed. But one thing needs to be added.

Many of these women take the abuse because they were abused at home as children. Maybe not sexually, but emotionall­y. Put down as children, not allowed to do anything without permission­, always told to obey, told that whatever went wrong was “her fault” — emotional abuse starts early.

These women marry men with similar traits to their abusers: strong, supportive­, willing to carry the load, demanding, restrictiv­e, confining, and accusing. They never learn to stand up for themselves­, and are told that if they ever do bad things will occur.

One girl I know of has been told that she should never leave home, even if she is an adult, until she gets married. Until she is married she is supposed to “stay in the protection of her parent’s home” and always obey her parents, no matter what. This is a prescripti­on for making her an abused person when she gets married.

Until we fix the parenting issues, we may never fix the abuse issues that occur later.”


Diane March 29, 2011 at 11:45 am

Huffington Post Reader jf12 writes:

“Perhaps a longer term solution, as in evolving towards better humans, would be for women to stop being attracted to violent men. “


Diane March 29, 2011 at 11:46 am

Huffington Post Reader Jan Kurth writes:

“While the psychologi­cal issues exist, they are overstated­. It may be more useful to compare the situation these women are in to people who are terrorized by gang members or organized crime. If the police cannot or will not protect them from retaliatio­n, then what’s the point? Abusers are notorious for getting out of jail on bail almost immediatel­y–assumin­g the authoritie­s chose to arrest them at all. And that’s when many women get re-assault­ed or killed. You also ignore the fact that leaving an abuser is the most dangerous time for a victim there is–that’s when most women (and/or their children) in fact are murdered. And the problems are compounded by the fact that the justice system is now pushing court-orde­red mediation and joint custody with these violent criminals. In reality, the criminal justice system has encouraged these women to remain prisoners in their own homes because the big ugly truth is this: there is very little REAL help–beyo­nd a hot meal at a shelter. “


Diane March 29, 2011 at 11:50 am

Jan –
The real help comes when law enforcement and the courts get serious about locking up these serial abusers – with or without the woman’s testimony. What they are doing is an obvious crime against the state – creating terrified spouses, children, etc. Removal of the violent component from the get go would make a world of difference!
We need to change our focus in this country – from building safe shelters for victims (we’d likely never be able to build enough) – to zero in on the CRIMINAL. One beating- jail. Two beatings-long prison sentence, period. None of this relying on flimsy pieces of paper called restraining orders – lock them up from the very beginning. And courts need to stop granting duel custody to abusers! I could go on and on but I think you get my drift about the need to CHANGE THE FOCUS. ~ DD


Laura Hutchison March 29, 2011 at 2:36 pm

This is sensational journalism and demonstrates poor logic and lack of actual research on the subject. You put forth a straw man argument, setting up victims of abuse as charictures that do not fairly represent them. Then you beat them up — again. Clearly you have no understanding or experience with domestic violence. Blaming the victim is just further abuse to someone who is already been abused enough. You have no idea how easy it is to have your self-esteem stripped from you piece by piece by someon you love and care about, without you even being aware that it is happening. You have no idea what it is like to be in a situation where it is your word against his, in a world that protects and defends him. He’s charming and charasmatic. He isn’t a lout. He’s someone every one else likes. Look at Jeffrey McDonald as an example of someone who brutally murdered his family. This is sloppy journalism.


Diane April 3, 2011 at 11:37 am

Laura – This is an EDITORIAL COLUMN – not a piece of journalism. That’s why when it appears in newspapers it is printed on the Op-Ed page – Opinion/Editorial section.
I suggest you carefully read my responses to other comments here to understand more fully where I come from in writing this. ~ DD


Diane March 30, 2011 at 9:21 am

Facebook Reader Renee Taylor writes:

“Unfortunately for so many, when the abused cries for help, their pleas fall upon deaf ears because no-one wants to get involved and often law enforcement hands are tied. There is frustration, confustion and hopelessness. The physical abuse is tied to emotional abuse which, in my opinion and experience, is why charges aren’t pressed, charges that are pressed are dropped and the abused keeps clinging to their abuser.”


Diane March 30, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Huffington Post Reader Julie Thacker writes:

” I am a survivor of domestic violence. Your position states that victims must be the ones to hold accountabi­lity to perpetrato­rs. Unless you, yourself, have been a victim of violence in a marriage, with children in the home, let me please explain the process.

First, you have to hope that while emotional abuse is escalating in a relationsh­ip, that a victim has the support of people who believe her and support her. (This discounts any and all people who know the assailant, and could never believe he would be capable of what she is choosing to disclose.)

Second, you must take into account that most physical violence comes into play when a woman is finally fed up, is ready and willing to leave, and things are the most dangerous. Statistics say a woman leaving an abusive relationsh­ip is in the most dangerous part of her relationsh­ip.

Third, if you also assume that domestic violence laws, in the states where there are mandatory arrests for 911 calls, will protect victims, (and that also assumes she can access a phone after an assault…­.what dummy abuser would leave his victim near a phone to call for help, as I learned myself) you would learn that most victims are actually in more danger after involving the police.


If you read the mentioned link, you will see that domestic violence homicides are actually 50% higher in states with mandatory arrest laws.

So, as a former victim, now survivor, I can say the biggest change is when people will start respecting and listening to victims. You can look on any blog post, on any web site that deals with Charlie Sheen, Chris Brown, Mel Gibson, and you will see just as many people blaming the woman as they are disgusted by a man’s actions. After all, most of us stil believe that she deserved it, or should have known better. Maybe, just maybe, with a lack of serious support, she was just trying to save the lives of her kids and herself. Because I can almost guarantee you , after most woman have been abused, they would give up their relationsh­ip to see a man appropriat­ely punished, and for her family to feel safe.


Diane April 3, 2011 at 11:13 am

Linken In Group Reader Michael McLeod writes:

“It’s funny how a week can make such a big difference in one’s attitude and prospective. Had I seen this headline a week ago I might have glanced at it and moved along or I might have thought about the scum suckers that call themselves men but are really low life cowards. I had it drilled into me from a young age you never, ever no matter what hit a woman. More likely I wouldn’t have given it two thoughts and moved on to the next item of the day, but what a difference a week makes in life.
This last Saturday I had an appointment to get my hair cut from the same lady that’s been cutting it for over 20 years. The woman in the next station I see from time to time and she’s a style conscious person always wearing the latest therds, hair and the ever popular lower back tattoo. When she walked into the salon I could tell from 15 feet away she had a terrible black eye and it was huge, covering down below her cheek bone and into her forehead. In a low voice I ask the woman cutting my hair what the heck happened to her. I was told her boyfriend had beaten her up the day before and it wasn’t the first time he’d done this to her. I ask if I could somehow meet this guy and get to know him better and give him a little advice on the treatment of women. I was shocked when she told me this woman won’t leave the low life as he said he was sorry and wouldn’t do it again even though that is the same scenario as in the past. She then went on to tell me that all the women in the shop feel sorry for her but she only has herself to blame. She said that if I did meet the boyfriend and roughed him up it wouldn’t do anything except make her feel sorry for him and accept the next beating as if she deserved it.
I don’t understand this thinking, his for hitting her and her for staying with this guy. It has to be she has a low self-worth or no self-worth, no self-esteem and thinks the situation is hopeless. You would think her close friends and her family could and would do something about it before it leads to something worse, maybe the guy burning up in bed one night as he sleeps.
As I man I feel ashamed that any male thinks he has a right or need to raise a hand to any woman, you can always walk away and be a man instead of a scum sucker. “


Diane April 3, 2011 at 11:14 am

Michael –
Michael this is such a touching story … Thank you so much for sharing it.
Its a terribly frustrating and hard to understand mind-set these women get themselves in, right? Your heart goes out to them but you want to SHAKE them at the same time. Only THEY can change their behavior – so that’s why I chose to write the column from the perspective of “see who else gets hurt?”
I like that you took it as an opportunity to address directly men who batter. Thank you! ~ DD


Diane April 5, 2011 at 11:32 pm

Huffington Post Reader dbrett480 writes:

“Great column. So few people acknowledg­e the victim’s role in the cycle. I work in law enforcemen­t and have lost count of how many DV suspects I’ve arrested only to find out that the charges were dropped because the girlfriend doesn’t want to press charges. “


Diane April 6, 2011 at 11:04 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Jackie Cooke writes:

You’re an uneducated person with a public forum. That’s dangerous.
You can write the article you did because you have options. Women who are abused do not have enough self esteem to put in a demitasse spoon let alone begin to deal with the bureauracy (sic) that proports (sic) to be their safety net. They are raised in fear, and many know fear all their lives. It is against human nature to step out of a known realm into an unknown realm even when it is for one’s beneift. (sic) ”

Spend sometime in our shoes so that next time you are fully informed before you speak so publicly blaming the victims. ”


Diane April 6, 2011 at 11:06 pm

ABQ Journal Reader P. Ingley writes:

“As a long time retired police officer from the East Coast, I read your column today (4/6/11), and had some moments of loud agreements with your comments. Many of our calls of domestic violence mirrored the ones you gave as examples, over and over and over again. Our County/State finally made it law that if we arrived
at the scene and observed evidence of violence on either party, one or both would be arrested and charged with domestic violence. But that still did not stop or slow down the violence, since the wife/girlfriend continued to refuse to testify in every case, usually using the law in effect of forbidding forcing the spouses to testify against each other. Or the threats made before the trial or thoughts of being left without a wage earner and children to support had the same effect. Thus the calls continued.

So, more education, training and child care will – of course – not work until the woman stands up and decides to change her life. The Battered Spouse safe houses helped, but then the wives eventually went back to their home after believing that everything had changed, or that there was no sign of support or whatever goes through their minds that makes the whole problem continue. Then they told their abuser where the safe houses were, and that made the safe house unsafe, ending that hope, either because the abuser went there if the abused disappeared again, or the abuser made it general knowledge to other abusers.

The abusers will not change, for whatever reason, so the abuse continues, even if the abused leaves and cuts all ties with them. The abuser only finds another easy to abuse victim, and starts over. The answer is still unobtainable to most of us, but sometimes the violent end comes from one of the abused, when they kill their abuser. Then this man-run world prosecutes the abused for stopping the abuse in that final way, unacceptable as it is.

Good luck with your crusade, and hope that you don’t take the heat to heart, since most of it will come from the abusers. You might only hear from a few of the abused, especially the ones that got away from those situations. Therein lies the only hope that I can see, if they and good counselors are in the safe houses, and can make a mind change in those victims that are brought in there.

Otherwise, again, good luck to you.”


Diane April 6, 2011 at 11:08 pm

ABQ. Journal Reader Yarncat writes:

“Thank you for a long-overdue article regarding the responsibility of “victims” of domestic violence. Those who would abuse those smaller,older & weaker than them are cowards. When one stands up to them,through the proper use of greater force, they back down. This is why I am now and will continue to be a proponent of Concealed Carry Weapons, Defensive Handgun Techniques & on-going training classes. One can only be a “victim” if they choose not to take responsibility for their self-preservation. “


Diane April 6, 2011 at 11:14 pm

ABQ Journal Reader ModernSuffragette writes:

“Let me first begin by telling you how much I normally enjoy your columns. However, your article on 4/6/11 left me stunned I am a Domestic Violence Victim’s Advocate and found your published words to be a bland echo of social opinion, not the original investigative queries of a crime and justice journalist!

Why did you not investigate the laws that fail to protect a victim and his/her family? Why is it only a petty misdemeanor to beat your wife, but forging a check is a 4th degree felony? When did New Mexico lawmakers remove the 24-hour hold we once placed on offenders? Why do so many cases get dismissed (when they are supposed to be prosecuted by the state)and which judges are shrugging these cases off? Why are the bonds so low for such violent acts of terror committed against a family? What policies have other states implemented to drop domestic violence rates? Why does New Mexico continually refuse to upgrade our laws?

These are the types are the questions you should be asking Mrs.Dimond, not telling the citizens of Albuquerque, “there are some women…who are to blame. Domestic abuse occurs because they allow it.” Not the fear, the control, the shame, the isolation tactics her abuser wields along with his fists. It’s easier to blame a broken woman than the judges who dismiss, the police who don’t arrest, the society that allows offenders to walk away.
You took a true fan and made her realize we have no allies in the media.”


Diane April 6, 2011 at 11:18 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Sayrah Namaste writes:

“I read your piece today saying that women who are battered have the ability to stop the abuser from further abusing other women. Your writing contradicted itself when you then wrote about what little penalty there is against men who abuse.

If those women who call the police when they are assaulted pressed charges, you say that would stop the men from abusing/killing in the future. How can that be true if they get such small penalties, and when the first time they abuse is equal to the hundredth time they abuse?

I recently went with my friend, who has been violently abused by her boyfriend, to the police to press charges. The police officer thought that she shouldn’t press charges, telling her he would get “a slap on the wrist” and that it would probably make him angrier at her and then he would really go after her again! This happened two weeks ago. We were shocked that the police wanted to dissuade her from pressing charges. And that the police admitted he wouldn’t be held accountable. And that we were supposed to work around the fear that he would hurt her again.

Your column does blame the victim. Men need to stop abusing, and our society needs to help and our laws need to change. Men who abuse are predators–they constantly look for more prey, more vulnerable people to abuse. Its the laws of the society that need to stop them, not their victims who can.”


Diane April 6, 2011 at 11:22 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Pamela Wiseman:

“I am the Director of the New Mexico Coalition against Domestic Violence. Of course, I read your article. I would love to meet with you-perhaps over lunch to discuss your piece and whatever else arises. I completely understand why you say that victims must leave if abuse is to end. That is most certainly true. But the real danger begins when a victim leaves. Police and the courts simply do not protect victims. If someone wanted to leave organized crime, just for example, we would not suggest that the person should do so in spite of the danger. We would enroll them in the witness protection program and provide armed guards.. But for victims of DV, arguably in just as much danger as if they were about to tell all to a prosecutor about a mobster, there is virtually nothing by way of protection.

Leaving is a major risk and source of threat and danger to a victim and her children. And, as you may know, victims now routinely face custody battles, which they often lose because their abusive partners are better funded and therefore more persuasive to the courts.

Are there victims who are not really afraid but still stay? Of course. But in your examples, I dare say that those women likely stayed out of fear-a fear that was obviously very well placed. The system needs reform. Unless and until that happens, victims and their children will stay with dangerous men, believing, often rightly that they are safer that way.”


Diane April 6, 2011 at 11:24 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Dr. Lewis Nemes, PHD. writes:

“As you indicated in your op-ed piece, you will indeed take some heat for your column that ran in the Albuquerque Journal today, April 06th entitled “An End to Domestic Abuse….”. I am a practicing psychologist with some 25 years of experience and I treat men & women after (not during) their domestic violence. So I will let others speak to the issues & suggestions you have drawn attention to in your piece. I would like to suggest that you read up on something the Social Psychologists call “Fundamental Attribution Error”. It will help keep you honest and make it much harder for you to make assumptions in future pieces when you fold this thinking error…well….into your thinking.

Please, keep writing, but remember: Fundamental Attribution Error.”


Diane April 7, 2011 at 3:39 pm

ABQ Journal Reader G.P.S. writes:

“I read your article about the end of domestic abuse beginning with the victims. I strongly agree. I was the victim of domestic abuse ONCE. I do know the fear, but I also knew the cycle, and I was not willing to perpetuate it. I can sympathize with the victims, but it also aggravates me that they use up resources and put law officers (and worse, their children) in danger. It was a brave and probably unpopular article to have written, but I was glad to hear it said.”



Diane April 7, 2011 at 3:41 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Paula Stewart writes:

“THANK YOU! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!! For saying what has been needed FOR YEARS to be said…for being so daring and brave…it is time the victims take responsibility, so they will not still be victims!!

I myself have not been abused…there might have been a man or two that showed signs of it, but I quickly dispensed of them. I have too much experience with friends that have been abused, and over time, I blame them! Many years ago, I had a very good friend, my best friend, whom I grew up with that dated a very abusive man, not just to her, but to her family also…verbal, physical and lots of destruction of property!! Noone did anything. One day, I was with her at his apartment, when he started a fight, accusing her of everything under the sun, the typical pattern, when I tried to leave with her…he then grabbed her and hid in the bedroom ‘to talk’ some sense into her. I patiently waited about an hour, then began knocking on the bedroom door, he opened the door, cursed at me, and promptly SHOVED me across the hallway, I hit the opposite wall and landed in a heap…I then got up and promptly slugged him in the face giving him a bloody nose!! Shockingly, he began to CRY! My ‘friend’ then became upset with me, about how I hurt him…but she finally left with me. I then told my brother and boyfriend what happened, they paid him a visit, but just made fun of him, that a girl hit him, and made him cry!! He was very, very scared of them. He left me alone, but my friend and I were not to be…two weeks later they were back together, he bought her many gifts with promises of no more abuse! Over the years, he destroyed her bedroom at her parents’ house, part of their home, smashed the tv’s, ruined the pool table, dumped all the food out of the refrigerator, vandalized 4 cars in their driveway many different ways, and so on and so forth. I saw her about 15 years later, she finally got away from him, but it took several years and several moves on her part to different cities all over the southwest. She was in another relationship, he did not physically abuse her, but he did control her!! It made me very, very sad that I lost that friendship. But, it was always about the man. Just a note, this woman had a master’s degree in business, she was very, very funny, athletic and very creative!! I hope she is well.

Another friend told me never to get between a friend and her abuser, she will always side with him. This has been an issue for me and my friendships with women, they will always take a man over my friendship. If I questions the unhealthiness of their relationship, I’m jealous, I’m trying to take him away from her!! It’s ludacrious!! I live here in Albuquerque, and the abuse in this city is so, so scary! About this time last year, you may have heard about this, there was a couple fighting in a parking lot of a major retailer for about 30 minutes. They arguing terribly in front of their children, cursing, pushing eachother, and it was escalating! The police were called, the man immediately attacked the police car and the officer. He was fatally shot, so sad. But a few days later, there was the wife on tv stating everyone was getting sued, that onlookers mistook them talking for a fight, that he was a great man, a good father, but yet, it was uncovered his history of abuse and arrest for other things as well, DUI, disturbing the peace, and on and on. Her attitude on tv was appalling

It’s gotten to the point now, where alot of times, I almost take the man’s side! Why do women go on and on complaining about these men, but stay put! We have equal rights! Women have never been more powerful, we have the same earning capacity of men, the same opportunities, we can do exactly as we please! But yet, we cling to those stereotypes that he must make a good living, he has to take care of the woman…and women STILL THINK because they can give birth, that will somehow cement their relationship. Ladies, it doesn’t work! Don’t manipulate men this way, be in charge of YOUR BODY! It’s sacred, it’s special!! We only have to look to professional sports to see how some of these athletes have several children, and still do not take care of them. Many do, but it does NOT keep the man in a relationship with you, because they have money, they can pay their way out of it…and why would you want a man like that??? Instead of ‘interviewing’ a man, they go all in, thinking that sex is the way, abusing their bodies. Like my mother said, everything is a two-way street, AND it takes two to tango, the women think they did nothing…but it is a form of manipulation!!

It’s a travesty in our society that women do not take responsibility for their actions, and then they have children with these creeps trying to keep them, and suddenly, they’re the Virgin Mary! We have got to do away with that disgusting term ‘single mother’, and telling these women how strong they are!! Yes, I am divorced, my son is now 25 years old, his father is a wonderful man! Sadly, I realized that I was the exception, not the rule, as far as how they men treated them post-divorce and being in their children’s lives. His father and I discussed everything and were both pretty agreeable on how we wanted him raised, yes there were some bumps in the road, but very minor, and few and far between. Women will then get involved in other relationships, then have children with the new man, usually the same abusive type, and it’s just all a big mess!! They should try stepping back to see why all this happened, and most importantly, to take care of their children! They made a life choice, sadly with other lives…deal with it!!! And quit using children!!

Diane, it’s all about responsibility, and sadly women are not!

Thank you so much what needed to be said! Keep up the good work!


Diane April 7, 2011 at 3:43 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Denise Heery writes:

“Diane, I have read your article on the subject of victims of domestic abuse. I too thought the same regarding women speaking up to stop this horrific crime. That is until my own daughter was that victim.

You must understand domestic violence does not start with someone hitting another, it starts with control and verbal abuse. First the abuser convinces the victim that they would have nothing without that person.

When they have accomplished that they then begin the verbal abuse until the victim thinks she is the one that is wrong. Then the physical abuse starts and by this time the victim to so scared and controlled that she then believes there is nothing wrong. Usually this is after the abuser has taken away the victims freedom and most likely has isolated them. By the time the abuse has become life threatening the victim is convinced she cannot live without this person and is to scared to be alone if the abuser goes to jail.

Usually family members don’t even know this is going on. I have just moved from a state (Illinois) that if a police officer gets a call about domestic abuse and they see someone has been hurt, someone goes to jail no matter what and the state presses charges. This will give the victim time to see what its like without being afraid.

We all want these victims to speak up, but until we have walked in their shoes or understand what went on before the physical abuse started we cannot condemn them. This state MUST look again at its laws and help the victims instead of the abuser.”


Diane April 7, 2011 at 3:46 pm

I have walked in their shoes and I have come to believe the only permanent way for domestic abuse victims to be safe if for THEM to stand up for themselves. Not their Moms or Dads or big brothers – but THEM.
Please take a moment to read my other comments/relies above. ~DD


Diane April 8, 2011 at 1:08 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Derek V.Garcia writes:

“The myths perpetuating “blame the victim” mentality for domestic abuse cannot go unchallenged. Respectfully, Ms. Dimond’s opinions are completely contrary to prevailing scientific opinion, sociology, and studies tracing the causes and effects of domestic violence. Her opinions are not made based on reason or facts, but rather made from misinformed cultural stereotypes. For example, one study documents that women who leave their batterers are at a 75% greater risk of being killed by the batterer, compared with those who stay. (Wilson, Margo and Martin Daly. (1993) “Spousal homicide risk and estrangement.” Violence and Victims, 8, 3-16). Suggesting that “domestic abuse occurs because they [the victims] allow it,” is embarrassingly misinformed. Ms. Dimond’s opinion has been tragically dictated by a male-dominated society, having more to do with male chauvinism and sexism, and less to do with powerful women speaking out for themselves.
I have come to know at least two or three of my clients who have approached the Journal to share their stories and speak out publicly against domestic violence. They were fully willing to put themselves at personal risk for speaking out on behalf of other women. They wanted to tell their stories publicly, despite prevailing notions that domestic violence is a private matter. Unfortunately, they have been censored by my hometown newspaper. One such client even attempted to take out a paid advertisement after her editorial was rejected, but that too was deemed unfit to print, compared to numerous advertisements appearing regularly. Ms. Dimond writes, “But the women at the center of this horrible cycle must also take personal responsibility,” blatantly ignoring the reality that those who speak out against these horrible cycles of violence are often ridiculed, further victimized, silenced publicly, and further stigmatized and isolated.
Ms. Dimond’s editorial assumes that victims of domestic violence actually have the power to choose to take personal responsibility. Many times, this is a false choice. Most are simply trying to piece their lives back together, to escape the overwhelming amounts of emotional stress associated with their experiences. In the aforementioned client’s case, she was driven from her home and children in New Mexico, forced to leave to another state, entirely, to receive any level of safety or protection from law enforcement. During the criminal proceeding against her former husband, she appeared personally during the prosecution of her abuser. However, because APD conveniently lost all the evidence against him, and the officers failed to appear at any hearings, her husband’s charges were dismissed. Prior to this, when she phoned law enforcement for help, she was instead arrested for allegedly battering her husband (the true abuser all along). My client’s story now remains as testimony to what happens to those who, despite having less power, money, or influence, decide to take on the burdens of community justice anyway. Their courageous, selfless actions not only make our community safer and happier for all who follow, but give real meaning to the words ‘justice for all.’ Ms. Dimond’s solution to “take a permanent walk away,” is the wrong decision, and should be offensive to all New Mexicans. Civil rights are community rights that affect all of us, until the day when justice “rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.””

Mr. Garcia can be reached at
Derek V. Garcia, Esq.
Albuquerque Civil Rights Attorney


Stacy April 8, 2011 at 1:32 pm

It’s appalling to me that you would feel the need to write a column that lacks sensitivity to people who have been victimized by perpetrators, but what’s worse is that you appear to lack the awareness you should already possess for the responsibility of how you influence the public. I think it’s interesting that you feel entitled to write such a column because you have witnessed someone going through a domestic violence situation. I doubt very much that your observation of a DV situation credits you as any type of domestic violence expert. I feel that it’s completely inappropriate for you to work out your personal issues of domestic violence and intolerance of women, and raise these issues in such a controversial manner as a way to entertain yourself or stroke your own ego. You are clearly uneducated on this topic, as you should recognize that women are not the only victims of domestic violence, but they are the only type of victims you chose to portray in your article. I also find it interesting that you feel the need to blame a victim for the death of a police officer. It’s not only degrading to the victim, but also to that police officer. I’m sure that every police officer who chooses that profession is aware of the dangers, and willingly accepts the personal risk every time they go to work. Unless Mrs. Martinez Maxwell or any other of Mr. Maxwell’s victims was convicted of murdering that police officer, then I cannot see how you are holding them responsible for his death? Your article lacks substance, sources and sensitivity. I think that it’s nice you have followers of your column who have tried to interpret some type of beneficial meaning to your article, but I think in this case we just need to call a duck a duck. You have chosen domestic violence as your avenue to slam women, and as a woman I could not be more offended. And in being a woman I feel it is more necessary to spend my energy providing a voice for women who have not yet found theirs, than to use such a vulnerable population for a personal agenda. I am a human services provider, and I work with women who are victims of domestic violence every day. I would like to invite you to spend some time in my agency interacting with this particular population in an attempt to broaden your perspective on the complexities of these women’s situations. As you mentioned in your column, education is one of the key factors in “stopping the cycle of violence” and in full agreement with this statement the education needs to start with people like yourself.


Diane April 8, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Stacy – We will have to agree to disagree. I speak from personal experience when I say the only way to make sure a woman is safe from an abuser is for that woman to decide it is time for her to stick up for herself. Its not until she finds that inner strength and personal commitment that she will truly be safe.

Family members tearing her away, lawyers promising they can help, best friends offering temporary shelter only prolong the inevitable.

Ultimately the women involved have to decide to be the strong one in the abusive relationship.

I wish you all the best ~ DD


Stacy April 8, 2011 at 6:29 pm

I urge you to do some research on the statistics that involve the number of women who continue to be perpetrated against by their abuser after they have left the relationship, I think you and your readers would be surprised to learn the truth behind this theory that women are safe after they get the strength to leave. I suggest you read an article by Ann Jones called Why doesn’t She Leave Him? She challenges your question of why women won’t just leave, and replaces it with questions like, “What’s wrong with him?”, “Why doesn’t he stop beating her?”, “Why don’t we make him stop?”, and “Why don’t we make him leave?” (Jones, 1998) I understand that your article was an opinion piece, but I think that it is irresponsible to play into a stereotype and not provide your readers with a well-rounded balance that includes the truth. As it is now your column lacks integrity, but hopefully in the future you will be more willing to educate yourself on an issue before you placate to readers who are happy in their ignorance.


Diane July 29, 2011 at 11:28 am

DD Web Site Reader S.N.A. of Pasedena writes:

Hello Diane,
I read your article about Domestic Abuse. This subject is much more complicated then many people realize. I think your article attempts to put everything in a neat little box. I was a victim of domestic abuse. When I went to court the DA treated me like I was a criminal. They talked down to me and treated me horribly. Why? because she was upset that I did not want a no contact order between myself and my husband and I did not want the book thrown at my husband. I wanted him to get some help rehab, meds etc.

From my research over 75% of women recant when their is domestic violence. I can not believe that that many women all have low self esteem or are crazy. The court system has basically one goal to keep themselves from being liable if he kills you. So they are interested in rehabilitation or anything else that can help the couple move through this. Why is that? Ever since the tide turned with the OJ situation and domestic violence it has swung too far the other way. I believe that there is a lot of over criminalization going on related to domestic violence. People are being prosecuted when neighbors call the police and maybe they were arguing loudly. Or other couples where he or she grabbed the others arm and left a mark. This is whether the woman has pressed charges or not. At one point I called the police to ask them to take my husband to the hospital for a 51/50 psychatrit hold he was acting erratic. They refused when they came to the door they said we can take him to jail and that is it. So when I said no they left.

Families are torn apart and no contact orders are placed against the couples will. I think that what the courts are doing to families is unconstitutional. How can the court tell a couple that they can have no contact? No texts, no emails, no phone calls. Even if they man is placed in jail or rehab where he is monitor or behind bars there is still no contact? Why is that? He can not hurt her if he is behind bars so why would the state decide that a grown woman if she chooses to is unable to communicate with her husband whether she has low self esteem or whatever it is… is it really anyone’s business.

My husband and I have a 5 year no contact order placed by the state. My husband is an alcoholic who suffers from bipolar and attachment issues. He is now on meds and trying to get himself together. He has been in rehab. People are able to change– many alcoholics, drug addicts and Felons do it everyday. So why can’t the man that has been convicted of domestic violence change as well? Basically as I said I wanted to write you so perhaps you could see a different side of this story. I am also attaching and article by a Harvard professor that speaks about this issue.


Mz. Inquisition August 1, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Wow!!! Where do I even begin with this article? I mean you cannot be serious. To lead off by saying “There are some women caught up in the throes of domestic violence who are to blame. Domestic abuse occurs because they allow it.” IS SHAMEFUL!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s saddens my heart as both a woman and domestic violence advocate that someone could EVER say something so ignorant. I feel the need to educate you on many of the ignorant statements you made. You stated “They imagine they can’t possibly make it in life without their abusive mate.” as a reason for a battered woman to stay in an abusive relationship. When in reality, most cases are quite the opposite. You have no idea what has taken place in these women’s homes. The fear instilled in them. In fact, more often then not, women do not follow through in court for fear of harm or death. These perpetrators threaten to kill them and then follow up on that threat with beating the crap of them. Those who do obtain protective orders, which are the first step in utilizing the legal system often, have those violated. Repeatedly. I can agree in a “perfect world” that a woman should be able to file charges, follow through, and the abuser be put away. However this is not a perfect world. You also neglected to mention the astounding number women who do follow through, press charges, and go to court. Their abuser is sentenced to a mere slap on the wrist the first 3 times, statistically before a harsh sentence is imposed. Then that battered woman who “stood up” for herself is assaulted when the perpetrator is released, despite the fact that she has a protective order in place prohibiting contact. The “system” routinely fails these women! These are facts battered women often know and fear. This is FACT that very view people discuss, as it is so much easier to take you point of view on this topic. A sad truth. As far as your example of the Jeffrey Maxwell case, you cannot really think, if Martha had followed through that the other assaults would not have occurred. If so, again I would preach education is the key and is clearly lacking in this article. The true odds are even if Martha has followed through (which I agree was the right thing to do) Jeffrey would have still committed the other assaults. The issue is Jeffrey (and his violent ways), NOT Martha. It amazes me how people as so quick to say, “The woman has to help herself.” Trust me, she wants to. Leaving is just not as simple as everyone would like to think it is. If a woman is involved in an abusive relationship, she has to develop an exit strategy in order to escape safely. This is not as easy a people think. If someone has not personally experienced abuse it is really unfair for him or her to pass judgment on these women on what “they should do.” I am sure many would be surprised how their different their views would be if they experienced abuse and survived it. Also, you are misguided in believing or stating a battered woman stems from low self-esteem, bad childhood, abusive parents etc. All I can say is do your homework. The numbers are astounding for educated, smart, strong, independent women, who found themselves in an abusive relationship. There is nothing wrong with them, except they exercised bad judgment. Something we all have done. Your article strongly insinuates blaming the victim whether that is what you intended to do or not. I will end my response with although I do not agree with your angle in this article, I do respect it. It is you opinion, and differences of opinion make the world go round. Furthermore, it presents opportunities such as this for domestic violence to be discussed regularly as it should be. The only TRUE way to end domestic violence is through education, awareness and support, not judgment!

(Sorry for being so long winded. This is a topic that I am vey passionate about.)


Diane August 2, 2011 at 12:58 pm

I’m pleased to publish your comment even though we disagree.

Yes, I will say it again – the best way for a woman to stop the domestic abuse she suffers at home is for her to take control of her own life and GET OUT.

That isn’t a heartless comment – its the truth. That IS the best way.

Believe me, I know it isn’t easy to remove oneself from a violent situation but a person is victimized only when they allow themselves to be. ~ DD


Carole Martinez September 27, 2011 at 10:29 am

Martha Martinez was my sister-in-law. When we learned that Jeff Maxwell finally got “caught” abusing another woman this year we could only regret that he did not go to prison years ago. He should have gone to jail. Who knows how many others have suffered his abuses as the years went by. After years of asking questions and working with detectives, we learned to live with the loss and accept the fact that we would not see justice in this lifetime.
As family looking in, we watched in horror as Martha returned to Jeff and the systems that should have helped her only pushed her back to him and allowed him to freely abuse her and others.


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