Sunday, September 30, 2007

Our Legal System - A Victim's Perspective -

by Indigo Star

Indigo Star is a Host for a group called 'Fierce Women' please visit her site as she sponsors some very worthy causes and is part of another Group 'A Helping Hand for Healing Souls'

Why Doesn't She Leave? (Victim of Abuse)

To know the answer...the truth...compels society to make changes that may involve radical "sacrifices" of the institutionalized acceptance of violence as something inevitable, rather than preventable.

This places responsibility on the Justice System...asking that it live up to its name and represent those who seek help in the courts...and not serve to grant light deterrents or no sentence to perpetrators.

Police are asked to "serve and protect" rather than judge, minimize, deny, fail to intervene and file accurate reports, fail to show up when there is a domestic call, fail to arrest perpetrators who violate protection and restraining orders, fail to take women and children to safe houses, fail to take rape victims to hospital for treatment and forensic tests, fail to promote zero tolerance in any more than hollow words.

In all cases I have been aware of the Police and the Justice system get an "F" for failure on all and every count.

Where I live, there is less than a 2% conviction rate for rape, even if there is irrefutable proof of the fact. Lawyers, police and judges collude with perpetrators and perpetuate the cycle of violence.

We have in theory a zero tolerance law. It has been in effect since 2000. It has not yet been enforced.

When a woman or any victim of violence or stalking, seeks a Protection Order, they have to recite the entire history of their violations before a magistrate, which are recorded and then sent to the perpetrator to hear and challenge.

The perpetrator then gets the added thrill of hearing this grueling and terrifying testimony of how deeply they have harmed someone and rather than instilling remorse, it gives them a sick sense of power and satisfaction. Many choose to challenge it as a further way of tormenting and terrorizing their victims.

I see this as an oblique way of punishing any victim who tries to take back their lives and gain some safety and protection. Even with evidence, few judges actually sustain an order when it is challenged.

The very sick fact is that this is done to prevent the police from being overwhelmed with all the cases from victims...mostly women and children...seeking safety. It is not given high priority and staff are assigned to less serious cases while this situation intensifies.

Restraining orders that involve a lawyer are slightly more effective, but again they are seldom worth more than the paper they are written on.

Even crisis lines have been slow to call police when a victim has asked for help. We have had numerous high profile cases where women were murdered after calls to crisis lines and police were made...but not responded to.

When gangs or terrorists are involved shelters have not really prepared for the high level of security required to protect their charges. One shelter in my city actually has a bomb/bullet proof underground bunker where the most vulnerable victims stay. It is a vault that would be appropriate for a war zone and a high security bank. It is little better than a prison cell. It is still not enough. Families cannot hide there forever.

Victims are rotated from one safe house to another around the country, as perpetrators stalk them and find them.

They are given new identities and still they are not safe.

Until safety is certain, healing cannot begin.

So, how do we overturn a system that does not serve women and children ? How do we put an end to this madness ? How do we liberate victims from not only their perpetrators...but from the system itself...that was supposed to shield and protect them and instead betrayed them at every turn ?

How do we do this ?

It cannot happen soon enough.

Bold and captioning mine for emphasis

"It was once said that the moral test of Government is how that Government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped."

-Hubert H. Humphrey (1911 - 1978)

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