Tale of Two Battered Women

As an admitted connoisseur ratchetness, I am very familiar with many of the reality televisions shows ruling the airwaves. I am able to rattle off their names and laugh and gossip about their behavior. However, sometimes, these shows can lead to discussions about some heavy issues. This week’s issue was domestic violence and the subject in the middle of these discussions are Basketball Wives’ Evelyn Lozada and Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta’s K. Michelle.

Lozada made headlines this week when she accused her estranged husband Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson of headbutting her during a disagreement. As I type, the media is in a tizzy because Lozada has filed for divorce after 40 short days of marriage. After word of Lozada’s alleged assault hit, there were a range of reactions. A few (myself included) felt sympathy for Lozada despite her antics on the show. Others felt the incident was karma for her behavior on BBW and some more, like Eric Williams, actually expressed glee at the situation.

As this situation was playing out, the latest episode of Love and Hip-hop: Atlanta premiere and a majority of the episode centered on K. Michelle and her attempts to heal from her abuse. In the episode, she performed a performance piece at a domestic violence awareness event and got into a conflict with castmember Rasheeda because the latter was skeptical about whether or not K. Michelle was beaten because the assailant happened to be married to one of her best friends. This episode also drew some strong reactions. A few people were skeptical like Rasheeda because K. Michelle is “crazy.” Others were angry at Rasheeda for not believing K. Michelle. Many of those people in the latter group were clowning Evelyn before the episode was aired.

Both of these women experienced abuse at the hands of a man they love but one was demonized and victim blamed because of some (very public) bad behavior. Despite Lozada’s penchant for tossing glasses, her incident should be taken just as seriously as K. Michelle’s incident. She was still assaulted. A woman’s personality flaws should not negate abuse. Although Lozada is famous, her being victim blamed isn’t that unique of a situation. Whenever stories of physical and sexual abuse hit the media, victim blaming stories usually aren’t far behind.

What was she wearing? She shouldn’t be showing so much skin.

What was she doing out so late?

I heard she had behavioral problems in school.

Well, she was a hoe anyway.

Society teaches us not to get abused instead of teaching abusers not to abuse. We’re taught that only certain people get abused and if you end up getting abuse, you must have done something wrong. For that reason, so many abused people are afraid to come forward. According to the Domestic Violence Resource Center only 21 percent of female victims and 10 percent of male victims seek outside assistance to combat abuse and many of the victims reported fear of consequences being the reason the remained silent.

On average, only 70% of nonfatal partner violence is reported to law enforcement.

Of those not reporting, 41% of male and 27% of female victims (34% average) stated victimization being a private/personal matter as reason for not reporting, 15% of women feared reprisal, 12% of all victims wished to protect the offender, and 6% of all victims believed police would do nothing.
(Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S. 1993-2004, 2006.)

Abuse is a serious problem in our society and until this problem is taken seriously, regardless of the victim’s personality flaws or past behavior, we’ll keep seeing more Evelyn Lozadas and K. Michelles.

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