Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Fine, here is a face and a name to your hateful meme

Sometimes, a story ties together a lot of themes in to one.

Over the years, we have discussed two things on and off. First, dating back to one of the most important books for anyone associated with the military to read, B.G. Burkett's Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of Its Heroes and Its History, with his superb description of the popular smear of veterans as broken vessels hair-triggered to explode. Second, an unchallenged anti-male bias and assumptions in our institutions and their programs from SAPR to Family Services in the service, to their civilian counterparts in the courts and government family services. Roll in a little Kafka, and a story just falls in the CDRS lap.

Consider the following. First go read a very loving sister asking what a Marine brother won't.
Last July my brother, the man I've known and admired my entire life, walked into a police substation battered, bruised and bleeding. He walked in and asked for help.

They assumed he hit her. They assumed since he's a man, he's at fault. They assumed since he's a veteran, he's angry. They assumed since he's a Marine, he's violent. They assumed since he's bigger than she is, she's not capable of hurting him. They assumed he was lying when he explained what happened. They assumed and they detained him.
Ten months later I convinced him to let me share his story because he needs help with his legal fees. I believe there's power in sharing. I believe friends and strangers will help. Every email he sends, every phone call he makes, every hearing, every office visit, every question he asks, costs money.

He's not just my big brother. He's a father, a son, a Marine Corps veteran, a student and a husband.

Last summer, any of those words would be an adequate and accurate description.

What he's endured since then confuses and angers me. He asked for help and they made assumptions and detained him.

They didn't photograph his injuries. He asked them what he should have done besides leave the house after she attacked him. They shrugged. They apologized as they took him to the hospital. They avoided eye contact as they handcuffed him to the bed for a brief medical examination.

When he was finally released he was forbidden to return to his house.

Charges were filed.

Before the cuts scabbed over, before the swelling on his head and face subsided, he went from having a home and a family to knocking on a friend's door asking if he could sleep on the couch or the floor while he figured things out.

He eventually picked up a trash bag full of clothes she put on the front porch. There was a court order and a police escort for that, too.

My mom and I talk with him (and about him) a lot and my mom often says, "They can't do that. She can't do that. That's not fair." I agree, and I keep waiting for the legal system to work.

Hearings are postponed or delayed. He's spent full days in court, with his attorney, only to learn the date of his next court appearance. The charges are changed. They try to mix custody and divorce with the criminal trial. In the meantime, he's still going to school, still seeing his kids during the court authorized visitation and still fighting the criminal charges.

His attorney is wonderful, but he's expensive and the invoices keep adding up. My mom helped with legal fees but they keep on coming.

It sounds childish as I type it but my mom's right. It's not fair. It's not fair he's the one who was beaten up and he's the one suffocating under a mountain of legal fees.

Why? Because he's a man? Because he's a veteran? Because he's a father and not a mother?

The article was published under a pen name but his name is Randy. He's a dad. A Marine. A student. A son. A brother. A friend. And he's a vict(im.)
Popular culture and our legal system are not balanced in their treatment of such circumstances and good people - and their children - are being harmed in the process.

As his sister mentioned at the above link, Joseph Kerr wrote his story down. Read the full thing here - and know how broken our system is and how good people can be harmed. 

Yes, there are two sides to every story - but even weighing everything with that, we shouldn't be in a place where,
“What do you do when a woman hits you?”

“Run. Run and don’t go to the police.”

That’s it.
Why? Because from Hollywood to Wounded Warrior Project, we - yes we - have let others define us. We have allowed ourselves to be stereotyped. Sure, they're doing it to us, but who is pushing back against those who paint us all in the worst possible light?
I was sitting across the desk from the child protective services supervisor, who spoke with confidence of things he didn’t know. “You’ve been to Iraq, we know all the guys who come back are fucked up in the head… If you need medication to stay focused or to see someone for mental issues — we know the military just sends you to war and spits you back out on the streets — we can help you with that.”
He made a final attempt to reduce me to a crazy-veteran archetype. One more question and I could relieve him of the work required in an actual investigation. “So the police thought you were lying, right? That’s why they arrested you. If they believed you they wouldn’t arrest you.” Breathe. Think. Pause, not too long. The words have to sound calm. Breathe.
An hour later I was handcuffed to a hospital bed waiting for CAT scan results to know if my head was bleeding. I looked at the officer. “What do you do when a woman hits you?” “I don’t know what to tell you, man” he confided. “We don’t like doing these things, but our hands are tied. We have to look at who is the primary aggressor.” Stop Violence Against Women aggregated legal writings and produced a list of determining factors for the primary aggressor. Below is a portion of the list:
⁃ The height and weight of the parties
⁃ Which party has the potential to seriously injure the other party
⁃ Whether a party has a fearful demeanor
⁃ Whether a party has a controlling demeanor

Like most men, I am taller and heavier than my wife. I’m a Marine veteran with combat training. Studies have shown that gender (either biologically or by social framework) plays a role in being fearful. Women are more likely to report being afraid.

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