Friday, November 22, 2002

"New Hope for Battered Women"

Following up on Drucilla's post from earlier this week, the Washington Post has an interesting article today: "Battered Women's New Day in Court: Calif. Law Lets Inmates Who Killed Abusers Ask for Another Hearing." I've posted it at Estaminet but wanted to share my thoughts with y'all too.

In what seems to be an increasingly rare move, this law (which has been around for nearly a year; this is the first time it's been enacted) brings actual justice. Justice is a tricky, subjective, elusive concept, often confused with vengeance. But this law, the first in the nation to apply retroactively, seeks to correct past mistakes and spreads awareness of a massive societal problem simultaneously.

I'm on board with this law, having seen the battered-woman syndrome first-hand. I've walked into a room of a friend to find her sobbing on the floor at the feet of her boyfriend who had just knocked her there. I threw him out; she brought him back. Another friend, despite all our efforts to help her, has spent years in a marriage getting belittled and hit and shoved around and cut off from her family. He even beat her dog. And still I get cheerful letters, the veneer of normalcy fragile as a butterfly's wing but impregnable as a brick wall.

I get violent when I think about these things too much. I don't believe in the death penalty, but I often feel I could kill these men with my bare hands for what they've done to people I love. Hopefully other states will follow California's example with this law, creating greater public awareness of this syndrome. Battered women -- and men -- live in a separate reality, and those who love them can only pray they pull themselves loose from it before the worst happens. Maybe this law will create a little more hope and courage in the present as it sets old wrongs to right.

1 comment:

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