Once again, the story of a man killing a woman he was dating has made front-page news, and for a familiar reason – police and judges failed to do their duty.
The day he shot Dena Seymour dead, the offender had racked up three orders of protection, was on probation for aggravated assault, had violated probation with an arrest for soliciting sex, had failed to show up in court, had failed to attend a court-ordered class in anger management and had just been charged with rape.
Felony charges were reduced to misdemeanors (allowing him to legally keep his gun) and he was released without bail despite the pending rape charge.
This happens over and over because men simply don’t value women. Instead, they operate from the often unarticulated but bone-deep belief that they must control women or risk being seen as emasculated.
This is especially true among police officers. Rates of domestic violence among their families is three times higher than in civilian families – 40 percent compared to 10 percent.
“Victims of police family violence typically fear that the responding officers will side with their abuser and fail to properly investigate or document the crime. …most departments across the country typically handle cases of police family violence informally, often without an official report…,” according to the National Center for Women and Policing. But this isn’t limited to police families.
After my sister separated from her soon-to-be-ex-husband, she met him at his office for a talk. His employees heard her scream when he tried to yank her out of a chair by her long hair. She called the police. But they spoke to her husband first, who told them that they were going through a divorce. They examined her neck and found no bruises. They dismissed her accusation as a “civil matter” that didn’t warrant their intervention and wouldn’t even take a report. She had to call the police station and insist on filing one. Now she’s getting treatment for the whiplash injury that showed up not long after he manhandled her.
Even her lawyer and her marriage counselor, both women, discouraged her from filing for an order of protection because there were no bruises and no witnesses. Shamefully, they even suggested he hadn’t really hurt her. This shows how deep and pervasive is the attitude that devalues women.
Her husband has subjected her to angry outbursts, extreme verbal abuse and constant belittlement, has a history of drug addiction and owns several handguns. Even if she had an order of protection, she could still be attacked because he has no reason to think he’d be punished.
The Chicago Tribune article “Red flags before woman’s shooting death” describes how authorities caused Dena Seymour’s murder by failing to take violence against women seriously. One judge had dismissed a fourth woman’s request for an order of protection against the man because she came across in court as too excitable, while he maintained calm composure.
Easy to do when you know the charges won’t be taken seriously.