Guest blogger Honi Goldman: Robbie Albarado trial shows police, courts less likely to ignore domestic abuse … if it’s reported

Honi Goldman is a media relations executive, owner of HMG Media Relations and a longtime Kentucky activist and friend of the Mary Byron Project.

We’re making progress – the domestic abuse charges against celebrity jockey Robby Albarado would never have come to light 20 years ago, much less have been covered by the news media.

But clearly, we have a long way to go in preventing this abuse from happening in the first place.

Albarado’s conviction this afternoon illustrates how the police, the legal system, therapists and a growing number of neighbors, friends and relatives will no longer dismiss these violent acts as “private” or as being exaggerated by a scorned partner.

Women now don’t have to be found dead in order for the courts and society to validate the abuse. However,these women do have to be physically abused – with documentation of photos, medical records, even rape kits along with testimonies of doctors.

While physical injuries are the most obvious telling signs, the emotional and psychological abuse are the first warning signs.

Most of us today can recite the still unchanged statistics of how one in four women is abused, but domestic violence still remains one of the most chronically under-reported crimes.

A major reason is that friends, relatives and co-workers are reluctant to confront the abuser on what he did and has done. What those well-meaning people do not understand is that when any kind of abusive behavior occurs, that is not a time for friends and relatives to keep quiet or be discrete because that only encourages more severe abuse.

Albarado had been charged with domestic violence actions last year by his wife. Why didn’t his friends and relatives and co-workers prevent this from happening again? What were they waiting for, a dead body?

We, as a society, need to become more active in order to prevent such acts from happening, and part of that effort is to support the woman who sends up a red flag that a specific person is an abuser.

With a definite profile and pattern of behavior, abusers are known for being extremely charming as well as convincing on how they are a good spouse and parent. They are particularly persuasive that any claim of abuse is unjustified or the person is “crazy”. Some relatives, friends, and co-workers find it uncomfortable to admit that their so pleasant friend is in fact a perpetrator, especially when abusers are skilled in executing extremely well thought out and detailed lies.

The preliminary signs of escalating abuse to a life threatening conclusion are always painfully evident, to all those professional people, relatives and friends who chose to deny and ignore. And that refusal to see a person’s abusive behavior only reinforces to his children that no one would believe them since no one would believe their mother.

This specific Albarado trial goes a long way to remind people that a high profile personality can indeed be “not a nice person,” and they can be prosecuted without victims becoming ostracized.

But for all those cases that do not end up in the legal system and are not highly publicized, victims need to be encouraged to inform the next woman who has become involved with her former husband or boy friend, without the fear of coming off as catty or having sour grapes.

Abuse is not situational: It carries over from one relationship to another. The next person needs to warned of potential abusive, even life threatening behavior.

Recently, in a very unscientific survey, I asked the following question to assorted friends and relatives: “If you know that a man has a history of mentally and physically abusing many women, do you tell his next victim?”

The response range from with “Stay out, none of his/her damned business” to “Put his name on a billboard on I-65″.

Experts on domestic violence say that the way to stop abuse is to expose the abusive actions and to have societal repercussions against the perpetrator. Friends, relatives, co-workers, and clergy need to stop diminishing and/or rationalizing these crimes, and start actively shunning the abuser.

So let us all vow to risk offending a friend, butt in to someone’s personal life and exclude those who commit abuse from our public events.

Only then will the statistics of this crime finally start changing to a lower number of incidents.

This post has been reprinted from InsiderLouisville.com with the express permission of the author.

To find out more about the cycles of domestic abuse and the profile of an abuser, see our website.

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About The Mary Byron Project

The Mary Byron Project was established in 2000 in memory of the young woman whose tragic murder led to the creation of automated crime victim notification technologies. As a nationally recognized thought leader on domestic violence, the Mary Byron Project cultivates and supports efforts that extend beyond crisis management to attack the root causes of this epidemic and help build safer, healthier communities. Solutions are within our grasp. The Mary Byron Project was established with that quest in mind.
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2 Responses to Guest blogger Honi Goldman: Robbie Albarado trial shows police, courts less likely to ignore domestic abuse … if it’s reported

  1. Drew says:

    Such a timely & important post! I continue to be amazed by people who do not intercede when they witness abuse. Earlier this week I was traveling by train and a young male was verbally abusing his girlfriend on the phone. When he told her that he would “show her not to hang up on him . . . when he gets there he’s gonna choke her” I confronted him. Long story short, at the next stop he was led off the train and taken away in handcuffs.

    Although many of my fellow passengers thanked me for actions, it was discouraging that so much time had passed with nobody speaking up. According to them this abuse had been going on for hours. Also upsetting is that it wasn’t his verbal abuse that upset most of the other passengers – it was his use of foul language. Although I’m relieved that this coward was unable to “choke” his girlfriend that night, it’s discouraging to witness so much helplessness and / or apathy when it comes to abusive relationships.

    My daughter was murdered in 2006 by her ex-boyfriend. The murderer told one of her best friends that he was going to kill her; this friend didn’t share this critical information in time, only speaking up when she testified to the Grand Jury.

    Each and every one of us has an obligation to speak up – to warn others – to protect others – and to shame those abusers among us.

    Jennifer Ann’s Group
    http://www.JenniferAnn.org

  2. Chris Owens says:

    It is so important that the message is clear: Abuse is wrong. Abuse is not funny. Abuse is not tolerated.

    Because silence signals approval and empowers abusers we cannot be silent. We must not believe what is easier to believe like the neighbors of serial killers who keep repeating “but he was such a nice neighbor.” If we are not being abused and do not have the strength to speak, how can we expect victims to have the strength to speak?

    In various news reports it appears the good work of the prosecution in the Albarado case could have been undone with a slight shift in the selection of jurors. Juries are a reflection of the community. Like Honi and Drew, we must continue to speak out. We must continue to shift the culture of our community so that more juries and our judges will continue to say Abuse Is Not Tolerated.

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