When The Batterer Hides Behind A Badge

Advocates often cite fear, shame and stigma as reasons some domestic violence victims hesitate to report their abuse. Turns out those pressures may be even stronger among families with a member working in law enforcement.

Two studies cited by the National Center for Women and Policing (NCWP), at least 40 percent of law enforcement families experience domestic violence. That’s four times as high an incidence than in families in the general population.

policebadgeVictims of a police officer are particularly vulnerable because their offender has a gun, knows the location of women’s shelters and “knows how to manipulate the system to avoid penalty and/or shift blame to the victim, according to the NCWP.  The organization also notes a failure of police department policies and a history of “exceedingly light discipline.”

Family violence by law enforcement is especially heinous because of its misuse of power. When cops refuse to police themselves, it’s the worst example of the Thin Blue Line.

Retired Capt. Donna Roman Hernandez, who served 29 years in law enforcement in New Jersey, bravely shares her abuse at the hands her police officer father on the website corrections.com.

“My fear was that if I disclosed the abuse to my police department, would they question how I could I protect others if I could not protect myself?” Hernandez writes. “Throughout my law enforcement career I never disclosed the abuse. I suffered in silence and hid my bruises and scars underneath my police uniform, guarded my family’s secret and internalized the guilt and shame of the abuse. Ironically, I arrested domestic violence offenders for the same acts of violence I allowed my father to perpetrate upon me.”

She shares a harrowing account of finally standing up to her father after he abused her and her mother for years. Her experience, she writes, “speaks to the global widespread epidemics of child abuse and domestic violence that affect women and men from all socioeconomic groups, races, cultures, religions and professions, including law enforcement.”

She concludes with a core philosophy of Big Mountain Data: All domestic violence offenders must be held accountable – even if the abuser is a cop.

Guns Turn Domestic Violence Into Domestic Homicide, Report Says

South Carolina, Alaska and New Mexico top the list of high rates of women murdered by men,  according to the new Violence Policy Center (VPC) study “When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2013 Homicide Data.”

The study, released in advance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, found that nationwide, 94 percent of women killed by men were murdered by someone they knew, and the most common weapon used was a gun.VPCreport coverThe study applies to 2013, the most recent year for which data is available. It covers homicides involving one female murder victim and one male offender, and uses data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Supplementary Homicide Report.

A total of 1,615 females in the United States were murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents in 2013, at a rate of 1.09 per 100,000. The report found that 94 percent of female victims were murdered by a male they knew.

According to the report, 280 of the women murdered in 2013 were shot and killed by either their husband or intimate acquaintance during an argument. “This is the exact scenario – the lone male attacker and the vulnerable woman – that is often used to promote gun ownership among women,” the report notes. “Women face the greatest threat from someone they know, most often a spouse or an intimate acquaintance, who is armed with a gun. For women in America, guns are not used to save lives, but to take them.”

“When men murder women, the most common weapon used is a gun,” Julia Wyman, executive director of States United to Prevent Gun Violence, said in a press release. “Closing gaps in state and federal gun laws will save women’s lives.”

Despite the grim statistics, the overall trend of women murdered by men in single victim/single offender incidents has declined. In 1996, the rate was 1.57 per 100,000 women, compared to 1.09 women in 2013. That’s a 31 percent decrease.

Here are the 10 states with the highest rate of females murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents in 2013:

  • South Carolina: 2.32 per 100,000
  • Alaska: 2.29 per 100,000
  • New Mexico: 2.00 per 100,000
  • Louisiana: 1.99 per 100,000
  • Nevada: 1.95 per 100,000
  • (tie)Tennessee: 1.65 per 100,000
  • (tie) Oklahoma: 1.65 per 100,000
  • Vermont: 1.58 per 100,000
  • Maine: 1.47 per 100,000
  • Michigan: 1.45 per 100,000