June 15, 2011 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, a time to raise awareness and educate public about a topic that is too often ignored.
Based on both state and federal statistics, nearly 200,000 Californians are victims of elder abuse every year. This problem threatens to grow worse as the “graying” of the Baby Boom generation results in unprecedented demographic shifts. Specifically, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that California’s elderly population, already the largest in the nation, will nearly double in size within the next two decades.
Generally, the term elder abuse refers to any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm to a vulnerable adult. Broadly defined, elder abuse can take the form of:
- Physical Abuse- inflicting physical pain or injury, e.g., slapping, kicking, or bruising.
- Sexual Abuse- non-consensual sexual contact of any kind.
- Neglect- the failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care, or protection for a vulnerable senior.
- Exploitation- the illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a senior for someone else’s benefit.
- Emotional Abuse- inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on an elder person through verbal or nonverbal acts.
- Abandonment- desertion of a vulnerable elder who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person.
If you suspect someone you know is a victim of elder abuse, or are a victim yourself, please do not hesitate to seek help. You can download the California Office of Aging’s “A Citizen’s Guide To Preventing & Reporting Elder Abuse” here and learn how to report the crimes committed against you.
“These are not crimes of passion, only crimes of possession” – Gloria Steinem
Last Friday night, the city of San Jose experienced the 25th homicide of the year. To put that into perspective, the city saw 20 in all of 2010. According to the San Jose Mercury News, the police have been unable to track any pattern in the slayings or explain the dramatic increase. When interviewed, San Jose Police Sergeant Jason Dwyer mentioned that the city has had two or three domestic violence homicides but since they were crimes of passion, they are too difficult to prevent.
I am enraged not only at the idea that the Police Sergeant believes domestic violence homicides are not preventable, but also disappointed at the continued use of the phrase “crimes of passion”, which should have been thrown out a long time ago.
The term “crime of passion” is an old British Common Law term and was developed during a time when passion commonly referred to any very strong emotion, whether positive or negative. In the legal field, the term has been coined to describe a crime that was not pre-meditated but rather happened in the spur of the moment due to strong emotions.
Perhaps this phrase was appropriate many years ago, but it is time to move on. The connotation around the phrase has morphed into one that romanticizes violence and places the blame on the victim, wherein the batterer’s violent response was justified by his emotions. Continued use of this phrase invalidates all of the knowledge that we have acquired over the years regarding domestic violence and its causes. A man who displays his jealousy by causing bruises on his partner’s arm is not doing it for her own good or because he loves her. It is about his need for power and control, NOT passion and romance.
Almost more dangerous than portraying domestic violence as a crime of passion is the Police Sergeant’s claim that domestic violence is unpreventable. We can put a stop to domestic violence and women can live peaceful lives free from abuse. I know this because I witness such success stories every day.
Is preventing domestic violence difficult? Absolutely. But is there really an alternative to consider? We cannot continue to believe that preventing domestic violence is a lost cause. As much as the San Jose police department likes to believe DV related homicides are isolated incidents, these deaths affect us all. These women are our sisters, our daughters, our friends, and our neighbors. The future successes of our communities are so inherently tied to the health and well-being of our female population and to throw up our hands and hope for the best is simply not good enough.
Today, I challenge the San Jose Police Department to re-consider the use of the phrase “crimes of passion” and to not give up hope for a future free from violence.
Two New York City police officers were acquitted last week of charges that they raped an intoxicated woman after helping her into her apartment while on patrol. They were convicted, however, of three counts of official misconduct for entering the woman’s apartment.
In 2008, the accuser was celebrating her recent job promotion in a Brooklyn bar and became intoxicated. She took a taxi home and the taxi driver called the police to assist her out of the car and up to her apartment. Security cameras showed the two police officers, Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata, returning three more times that very same evening.
The woman testified that she passed out, awoke to Moreno raping her and then passed out again. At the urging of the internal affairs department of the NYPD, the victim later confronted Moreno while wearing a recording device. At first, the police officer denied the accusations. It wasn’t until the woman threatened to go to the precinct that Moreno admitted to wearing a condom while they had sex. He also told the woman that she “didn’t have to worry about getting any diseases.” When asked about this confession, Moreno claims he said that only to make the woman leave him alone.
In Moreno’s account of the evening, he said that he “bonded” with the woman. As a recovering alcoholic, he took it upon himself to counsel the woman about her alcoholism. He also claimed that she flirted with him after he helped her into the apartment, which led to him cuddling and kissing her.
I have to ask: In what universe is it okay for a on-duty police officer to enter a woman’s home four times in four hours, counsel her about her alcoholism and proceed to “cuddle and kiss” her?!
So why didn’t the jury convict the police officers when, by his own admission, sexual intercourse between the inebriated woman and a person of authority did in fact take place? Well, it must have been her fault! If she didn’t want to get raped, she shouldn’t have had so much to drink, right? WRONG.
Keli Goff asks us to think about it this way: If a drunk person wanders into the street and gets hit by a car, isn’t the driver still responsible? If a man gets beaten and mugged on his way out of a bar, wouldn’t the jury would still convict the guys who were caught with his wallet, regardless of how many drinks the victim had consumed? Absolutely. And yet, alcohol somehow continues to be an excuse for assault. I honestly just don’t get it.
In healthy sexual interaction, consent is not a tricky concept. If you think about sex as an activity that both partners partake in and do with each other, there’s a whole lot less confusion. I have a hard time believing that the police officer, who was called to assist a woman due to the fact that she was too inebriated to help herself, thought that she was in sound mind enough to consent to mutual sex.
All this woman wanted was to have fun with her friends, celebrate her promotion and drink a few beers. Is that too much to ask?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment below!