domestic violence is not a “domestic dispute”

I was going to write about this myself, but my friend, Jeff Crippen, did such a great job that I thought it best to just re-blog his article:

BROOKLYN, Ohio – A northeast Ohio man shot and killed his young daughter on her birthday and his wife, who had just told him she was leaving him, inside a crowded Cracker Barrel restaurant before being killed by police.  Kevin Allen fatally shot 42-year-old Katherina Allen and 10-year-old Kerri Allen and also wounded the couple’s other 10-year-old daughter, Kayla, in the Thursday night shootings, the Brooklyn Police Department said. According to police records, Thursday was Kerri Allen’s birthday.

The restaurant will remain closed until the investigation is completed, Cracker Barrel spokeswoman Julie K. Davis said in an email from corporate offices in Lebanon, Tenn.  ”This appears to be the result of a domestic dispute between two guests and no Cracker Barrel employees were involved,” she said.

I learned to spot this common, yet far from harmless, error in news reporting at a seminar I attended where Lundy Bancroft was the speaker.  Think about it.  Is the last line summation an accurate assessment of what happened?  Is domestic violence a dispute between two people?  Of course not.  But this statement from the Cracker Barrel official (I like Cracker Barrel Restaurants, but they need to be corrected on this one) is totally wrong AND it is demeaning to this woman and her children.  Dispute?  It takes TWO people to argue in a dispute.  That isn’t what happens in domestic abuse.  What this was was nothing less than one single wicked man’s culmination of his ongoing murderous terrorism against his wife and children.  The only happy thing about it is that he is dead.  Unfortunately that doesn’t mean anything for the wife and daughter that he killed, though we can certainly pray that with time and therapy, if she survives, the daughter who remains will be able to heal.

Let’s think about this some more. A murder takes place, say, on a street.  Some druggie comes up to a person and demands their money and then guns them down.  How is that one going to play out in the papers?  ”Yesterday at 8PM on Main Street, Joe Smith was shot to death by Tank in a dispute over money.”  Will that be it?  Stupid, right?  But this is exactly what we keep hearing.  Why?

I think I can tell you why.  We like this kind of analysis because it makes the victim out to not be so much of a victim.  This wasn’t such a horrible evil after all – these two people just had to keep at it and keep at it, arguing and fighting with one another, until it finally came to this.  Why can’t people be like us and just get along?”   And then we go about our merry way.

But what if we had to read it this way – had to have our nose shoved right into the thing – “After years and years of being terrorized by her abusive husband, trying repeatedly to get help and getting very little, Mrs. Allen picked a public place, the Cracker Barrel restaurant, to tell him that she and the girls were leaving him.  In a rage, he stormed out, got into his car and began circling the restaurant.  Mrs. Allen called 911 because she feared he would do them harm.  She was right. Before police could arrive, he came back inside with a rifle and shot her and both of her daughters.  If he couldn’t own them, no one else would, and they would never be free.”

Now, that is accurate reporting of the facts.  We never hear it.  Oh the poor, tormented man.

Katherina and Kerri died.  Kayla survived – maybe.  We should pray for that little girl.  Once more, I propose to you that this thing smells of the devil himself.  I wonder if this family attended a church?  I wonder if Katherina had asked for help there?  I wonder….

NOTE:  Here are some more facts that are worth reading, taken from an Ohio Newspaper.  What common patterns do you see?  And notice again the deceptiveness of the abuser –

“The dispute that caused a Strongsville man to shoot his wife and two daughters at a Brooklyn Cracker Barrel April 12 was ongoing, according to a Strongsville police report.  Katherina “Katie” Allen called police from the Cracker Barrel restaurant in fear he would do something violent.

Two days earlier, Katie had also called Strongsville police requesting an escort to her home. According to the police report, a verbal altercation April 8 convinced Katie to take her daughters and stay with a friend. She told police her husband would have kept the kids if she went back to her home to get her belongings.

Katie also told police she had not been getting along with her husband and that they had been getting into verbal altercations.
Neighbors said the Allens, who lived in their Strongsville home for about five years, were “the all-American” family. No one said they noticed evidence of violence or verbal abuse.
Irene Bendzuck said she would sometimes watch the 10-year-old girls.
“The girls would play outside and jump on the trampoline. They were happy-go-lucky girls,” she said. “They were nice, happy girls.”
“They were a nice family. They kept to themselves,” said Martin Porter. “If they needed help we would have helped them. I never expected anything like this.”
Neighbors described Kevin Allen as quiet, but not dangerous.
“I talked to him two or three times,” one neighbor said. “He was just quiet. You had to push it out of him to get a conversation. He got up, went to work just like everyone else. Nothing out of the ordinary.”
“He would drop of the kids and would just leave,” Bendzuck said. “He was weird, I always thought so.”
Kevin Allen was previously arrested and later acquitted for stealing Oxycodone from a client in North Royalton in 2008. Allen worked as a representative for Coit Carpet Cleaning when the client reported her medicine was stolen following Allen’s visit to her home.
According to Kirtland police, Allen was also arrested and charged with domestic violence in 1995. A woman who may have been Allen’s ex-wife, Janice Allen, had filed a temporary order of protection against Allen before the arrest in 1995.

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5 thoughts on “domestic violence is not a “domestic dispute”

  1. My husband actually read me this news report one night as we were lying in bed. I had just snuggled under the covers and was drifting off to sleep. All I could think about was that poor woman. Trying to get safe. Trying to follow the advice of being in a public place when informing her husband that she and the girls were leaving. My heart broke for her and those girls. The next thing on my mind…what an odd thing to read to your wife at bed time. Lastly was how glad I am to have stood firmly when informing him so many times that we would NOT have a gun in the house. It makes me sick to read those additional details. No one ever knows what happens behind close doors in these families. It is all just a performance we put on, masks we wear to the outside world pretending everything is ok.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful response. I, too, was concerned that your spouse would share this with you when you were in bed, vulnerable and almost asleep. My second thought was, guns don’t have to be “in the house.” They can be hidden in barns, under truck seats, etc. I pray you will be safe. M

  2. There is a person with his victim-blaming comments on Yahoo News concerning this incident. He or she is asking questions like, “Why would she marry someone that carries a gun”….etc. And another comment from same person read, “When leaving your spouse, please do this in an area where they do not have access to their vehicle. This way they won’t use the vehicle as a weapon, or get a weapon from inside….Thanks, Society. This was on the Yahoo News article,”3 Killed at Cracker Barrel Restaurant” newest comments. Does this sound like victim-blaming to you? I am so tired of people blaming the victim, as if they have the ultimate power control balance in their favor to make their abuser stop their behavior. If this were the case, the victim would be able to avert any abuse in the first place. It does not matter if victim stays or leaves…there is often an element of danger for victim and children involved. In my heart, I believe many victims are afraid to reach out to others for fear of being blamed, and many blame themselves already for not being “good enough”–thereby somehow meriting the abuser’s behavior. This poor mother was trying to leave, and do the best that she knew to protect her children.
    For the first comment here…I see and hear and pray. Good forum. Hope I did not upset anyone.

    • Not a word upset me, that’s for sure! I almost laughed at the person’s comment about “why would she marry someone that carries a gun”? Obviously, they don’t have a clue that 99% of the Ohio population hunts like it is their national sport! “Not in an area where they have access to their vehicle …” And where would this be? Was the victim supposed to ask her spouse to WALK to this public place to meet her?

      Yes, I can see how you would feel this is victim blaming, but I honestly truly believe that well meaning people are simply CLUELESS about the reality of living in a Domestic Abuse situation. They don’t understand living in fear for your life. That precious mother did everything right. She asked him to meet her in a public place so she would feel safe. It wasn’t her fault that he came in carrying a rifle. 911 should have been called by the first person who saw him come in the door.

      Statistically, it is 10 times more likely that a woman will die AFTER leaving her husband than if she stays with him. “If I can’t have you, no one else will either.” Please keep praying. Our very brave and terrified sisters need all the support we can give them. And keep writing!!!

  3. Oh, yeah…this person is subtle to a degree on the comment thread, but he or she is victim blaming to a big extent. Thank you for your response. I am also disturbed to know that even after victim leaves, abusers still victimize through children in various ways, to continue their control over their victim. Abusers often get full or shared custody. I know, for I fought the court system for 3 long years. I have been gone from that person for 8 years. I still struggle with bitterness. The court system is another story.

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