In the week two case study involving Jane (2019), one could see that one community system that influenced the outcome of her and her children’s case was religious. Jane, who met her husband through a Christian talk radio show, was a victim of coercive control, which involves using psychological techniques to subordinate women into second-class status (Stark, p. 26, 2017). Her husband used their Christian belief system as an excuse for his use of coercive control, domestic and sexual violence. Jane’s husband even had the backing of their pastor, who although did not agree with her husband, Dan’s practices, explained that she would still need to remain loyal to her husband.
One would like to believe that religious institutions, especially one so beloved and influential in Western society such as Christianity would have in modern times reformed to the point of universally condemning domestic and sexual violence in all forms. However, this is sadly not the case. According to an article by Fortune, Abugideiri and Dratch (2010), faith is heavily interwoven into culture, and thus addressing domestic violence must be treated with cultural competency. If not addressed, religious values will put up “roadblocks” for many (Fortune, Abugideri and Dratch, p., 2010). With that being said, the misuse of religious texts can be harmful as well, even if being used in the context of cultural competency. For example, misinterpretations of these texts can cause guilt among those trying or wanting to seek help, thus putting up further roadblocks. Even worse, those who seek help from entirely religious groups can lead to one be even more confused as how to handle their plight, as commonly used texts in these groups such as “get closer to God” and “pray harder” are vague and commonly misconstrued and can be seen almost as justifications for the abuse (Fortune, Abugideiri, and Dratch, p.2, 2010). The misinterpreting of biblical texts, although not specified, was used in the Jane (2019) case.
In the Jane (2019) case, the Christian community that she was a part of was overall not well-suited to help her and her children escape their circumstances and should have been handled differently. Once the pastor was made aware of the abuse, he should have reported it to the proper authorities, but instead he chose to side more so with Dan, which would have possibly caused Jane to feel more trapped. If the pastor would have been totally unwilling to report the case to authorities, he should have at least been willing to recommend that the couple see an actual marriage counselor. An article by Sokoloff and Dupont (2005) discusses feminist approaches to domestic violence. The article, to quote, states that “violence against women is a consequence of socially constructed and culturally approved gender inequality” (Yllo, 1993). This article affirms that all women face inequality in cases of violence, whether they be LGBT, straight, White, or of minority status because of all women’s basic status in society as being unequal to men. Although Jane has the advantage of being White and financially well-off, her gender made it more accepted to be abused, at least from the male figures in her life.
In the case study of Monique (2019), Monique is a married woman with three young children. Her husband, James, was emotionally and physically abusive. However, Monique chose to stay with him because she was financially dependent upon him. When her and her children were able to escape the situation, hardships still remained within Monique’s life, as she did not have and really tight community support system. Although social workers were able to place her children with her mother so that she would still be able to remain close with them, life was difficult for her at the shelter. Being a woman of color, Monique faced racism from a fellow resident at the shelter, with the other woman spouting racist rhetoric towards Monique. Although Monique brought the issue to the attention of shelter directors, the woman was not specially punished or talked to about the incident. Instead, the shelter director chose to call a group meeting among all the shelter residents to discuss the importance of an inclusive environment within the shelter. However, the racism did do stop for Monique, putting up a roadblock for her escaping domestic violence, as she would be kicked out of the shelter for physically retaliating against the resident for further racist rhetoric. This exemplifies how although women in general face extraordinary roadblocks in escaping domestic violence, women of color face even more roadblocks.
According to an article by Crenshaw (1991), both race and gender are important in understanding the extraordinary case in violence against women of color (Crenshaw, p.1, 1991). Crenshaw (1991) goes on to further explain that “race, gender and class constitute the primary structural elements of the experiences of many Black and Latina women in battering shelters” (Crenshaw, p.3, 1991). The article goes on to further explain that these multiple identities can make these women more vulnerable, and the resources for helping these women are often vastly underfunded (Crenshaw, p.4, 1991). The Monique (2019) case was a perfect example for explaining how the subject’s identities as a Black woman put her at extra level of vulnerability, with her minority status making her a target within the shelter, a place that should be a sanctuary for her.
The Jane (2019) case showed one how strong interpersonal relationships can led to a more successful outcome in seeking help for domestic and sexual violence and staying away from the perpetrator. Jane, although has an unspecified relationship with her family, has a strong relationship with her friends, who encourage her to get help for the abuse inflicted upon her earlier on in the case. Although Jane initially refuses because of fear, her friends still choose to stay by her side. Her friends eventually take the matter into their own hands. When the oldest child is at a family friend’s summertime birthday party, markings are discovered on her back. It is at this point that the family friends chose to intervene on behalf of Jane and her children, reporting the incident to child services, who then opened an investigation into the incident. It was after the investigation that Jane was able to seek help and gain further support from the Family Justice Center, which was able to help Jane permanently separate from Dan.
The Monique (2019) case shows a strong contrast to the Jane (2019) case in terms of interpersonal relationships aiding in positively intervening in the cases of domestic violence. Monique did not appear to have the strong support network the Jane did, with no references to positive friendships being made. However, her family relationships were discussed, and they were not positive. Monique had a strained relationship with her mother as a result of her not believing Monique when she disclosed her sexual abuse at the hands of an uncle when she was younger. This relationship led to Monique not being able to stay away from James, as when living with her mother became unbearable, she winded up in the shelter, later on returning to James as the living situation at the shelter, as discussed earlier, became unbearable as a result of the unresolved racist tropes spouted at her.
The Jane (2019) case shows that even when the justice and court systems helps the victim separate from the perpetrator in a seemingly positive outcome, there were flaws within the system, such as the monitor for the supervised visits with the children becoming close with Dan, and thus becoming lax on the rules regarding proper protocol for the supervised visits. This allowed for Dan to contact Jane unsolicited after the visits before she could leave. On one occasion, he even kissed her, which caused Jane to fear for her own safety. She decided to then get a protection order for herself, which was promptly granted. At this, she would no longer have to be present for the supervised visits. Monitors would take the children to the visits at that point, in which they noticed sexual behavior among the children. From there they open another investigation, and Dan would be charged with child sexual abuse.
The Monique (2019) case showed a stark contrast to the Jane (2019) case in terms of support from the justice and family system. After Monique left her mother’s house, she was left to find shelter to reside in at the suggestion of her caseworker. After being kicked out of said shelter, she was left on her own to find a stable place to live, away from James. This shows that the caseworkers involved in Monique’s case were not as hands-on, and that the system was far less forgiving with Monique. Even though Monique’s children were not stated to have had suffered any abuse at the hands of James, she was not allowed to keep her children, or the same amount of chances to keep her children that Jane was.
Jane (2019), who knew that her children were being psychically abused by her husband, was allowed to keep her children. Once the sexual abuse of the children came to light, Jane even admitted that she had a sneaking suspicion of the sexual abuse but was still able to keep her children. This reveals the inherent biases in the justice system, with the children of the more financially well-off and Caucasian female being allowed to keep their child while the children of the poor, African-American mother were taken away.
In addition, the justice system did fail to handle Monique in the kindest of ways. When the neighbors called the cops over a domestic disturbance, Monique ended up being arrested instead of James, who had a scratch on his face from Monique, while Monique had no visible markings. It is actually not so uncommon that victims become arrested as well. According to an article by Osthoff (2017), even in cases where victim’s lives are being threatened, it is still possible that the victim will still be arrested for defending themselves. At this point, the article goes on to further explain that the victim will no longer necessarily be seen as a victim, since they have become a perpetrator of a crime themselves (Osthoff, p.29, 2017).
In addition, Monique’s status in society as a woman of color made the case against her in the justice system even more severe, With the statistics backing that women of color were more likely to be arrested than their Caucasian counterparts. According to an article by Jacobs (2017), the arrest rates of Black woman are 2.8% higher than that of White women (Jacobs, p. 59, 2017). Women of color are also less likely to seek help from informal supporters, making their support network even smaller, as thus more likely end up in the worst possible scenario when trying to escape domestic violence (Cuevas and Cudmore, p. 25, 2017). Opening up to even informal supporters could help these women’s cases by there being a record of the violence, thus if the women ever have to resort to self-defense, they will have the evidence on their side, so they could possibly avoid jail time.
In conclusion, the case studies of Jane (2019) and Monique (2019) show that intersectionality are key in explaining victim’s success in escaping domestic and sexual violence and staying independent. The victim’s status as women in society put up barriers for them in this violent situations, and Monique’s status as a poor, woman of color put up even more barriers, and exposed biases in the structural systems, such as the justice system. The flaws in community systems, such established shelters and religious, Christian communities prove that any community destined for and intended for positivity can be flawed. In addition, interpersonal relationships can be key in either making or breaking success in leaving an abusive relationship.
- Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color: Crenshaw, 1991.
- Current Controversies: Coercive Control: Stark, 2017.
- Domestic Violence at the Intersections of Race, Class, and Gender: Sokoloff and Dupont, 2005.
- A Commentary on Religion and Domestic Violence: Fortune, M. M., Abugideiri, S., & Dratch, M. (2010). Retrieved July 25, 2019, from https://www.faithtrustinstitute.org/resources/articles/Commentary.pdf/?searchterm=sacred texts
- In the Field: When Victims of Battering Are Charged With Crimes: Osthoff, 2017.
- Intimate Partner Violence Prevention Among Underserved and Understudied Groups: The Roles of Culture and Context: Cuevas and Cudmore, 2017.
- The Violent State: Black Women ‘s Invisible Struggle Against Police Violence: Jacobs, M. S. (2017). William & Mary Journal of Race, Gender, and Social Justice, 24(1). Retrieved July 25, 2019, from https://scholarship.law.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1462&context=wmjowl.