My friend was murdered this month. She was allegedly
killed by a man whom she had been trying to run from for months — her husband.
I say “allegedly” here, as the case has not yet gone to trial. No matter my outrage, I’m a strict proponent of due process and the presumption of innocence. He deserves a fair trial.
He is now being charged with capital murder, but I fail to see how giving this man the death penalty would help protect the next woman in Megan’s shoes. Megan was failed over and over again by a broken justice system — the same system that is now trying to cover its tracks by appearing “tough on crime.”
I first noticed something was wrong back in March. Megan’s Instagram started to fill with pictures of her in an arm cast, instead of the normal posts of her smiling alongside her husband. I feared the worst and reached out only to find she had been shot in the arm in her home. During the investigation, her husband, who was a cop at the time, stepped down from the police force in their Alabama town.
At that time, he wasn’t fired. He wasn’t charged. In fact, it seems authorities blamed her for the incident (and the media continues to report that indiscriminately). Never mind that she was terrified of guns. Never mind that she was the one who continually ended up injured.
Months later he allegedly showed up at her door and attacked her again. This time he was allowed to go about his way on a puny $1,000 bail. (Bail is another problem for another piece).
Megan did everything we tell domestic abuse victims to do in order to protect themselves. She left, immediately. She got a restraining order. She was seeking a Protection From Abuse. She filed for divorce. She wasn’t silent.
While so many abuse victims hide out of shame or fear, she was bold, public, and determined that her fate would not be someone else’s. She shared texts and videos of him continuing to threaten her on her social media — advocating for herself and so many others who do not have the ability to speak for themselves.
But none of it was enough to save her.
The "blue privilege" regularly extended to members of law enforcement, coupled with the justice system’s pervasive apathy towards violence against women, cost Megan her life. She died a hero, quietly leaving a restaurant when he allegedly stalked her down and demanded she leave with him. She knew he had allegedly made threats of mass violence before.
About ten million people face domestic abuse every year in this nation, and so many face obstacles to leaving. Even after serious violence has occurred, many women struggle to meet the burden of proof necessary to obtain restraining orders or orders of protection. And even when they do, these flimsy pieces of paper do little to nothing to stop an unstable person from persisting. In fact, the very act of seeking them threatens to anger an aggressor because their abuse becomes public in the process. They’re also expensive to obtain.
And for what? These orders are violated every day. To date, more than half of all female homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner.
The justice system’s problematic negligence towards violence against women doesn’t end with domestic violence either. It is codified and traceable.
Let’s talk about rape. It wasn’t until 2012 that this, quite obvious, definition of rape was finally updated by the U.S. Justice System. It's also been well-reported that hundreds of thousands of rape kits sit untested across the country. Some people call that a backlog. Read my lips — screw that. Rape kits aren’t being tested because they’re deemed unimportant, and police departments allocate their budgets elsewhere.
Culturally, we’ve come a long way in how we view violence against women. For many of us on both the right and left, the #MeToo movement was an un-choking of problematic behavior towards women in the culture and in business that for so long was disregarded or even accepted. It gave us a space to come forward as a group, and there is power in numbers. For many of us, we needed that power to feel safe in speaking out about the things that had been done to us by powerful men.
The fact is, women rarely lie about violence towards them. In fact, the incentives go in the other direction pushing most of us into silence.
I’m not saying women’s claims should go without investigation. All charges should result in extensive scrutiny of the evidence. That being said, we’re a long way from the pendulum swinging in the other direction, and currently, women are still struggling to have their voices heard and their evidence tested in the first place.
Violence against women must be given equal resources and pursued extensively. Powerful men should never be allowed to hide behind their name or their badge. And I should never have to bury another friend in vain due to violence that the justice system could have easily predicted and prevented.
Hannah Cox is the National Manager of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty. Hannah was previously Director of Outreach for the Beacon Center of Tennessee, a free-market think tank. Prior to that, she was Director of Development for the Tennessee Firearms Association and a policy advocate for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. To read more of her reports — Click Here Now.
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