Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Mark Steyn’s recent column, “Standing Small Against Iran Won’t Work” brought to mind the years I spent immersed in the crises of domestic violence. Whoever first termed it “domestic terrorism” was right. Though this was decades before Islamicists were on the horizon, the similarities would turn out to be striking.
In his essay, Steyn pokes fun at the limp-wristed resolve of the EU 3 and their vicious counter-attacks on Iran. Britain is harrumphing about “narrowly targeted sanctions.” That’ll put a scare into them. Germany thinks this is too harsh, and La Belle is doing some nuklear saber-rattling — but who believes Chirac on anything, even the color of his tie?
So what do these “world leaders” + Iran have to do with domestic violence? Well, let me give you a real-life example; see if you get the parallels.
Back in the mid-’80s, while domestic violence was pretty much a grass-roots organization, I admitted to our shelter a woman who’d had both eyes blackened by her abuser. As the shock wore off, she was distraught, angry and determined to end the relationship. We took pictures of the damage for court, and went to the magistrate’s office. He looked her over and filed charges for assault. Her abuser was picked up the next day, spent the night in jail, and at his preliminary hearing was given a court date and instructions on finding a lawyer. He was released on his own recognizance as he had no previous record, was steadily employed, and wasn’t going anywhere. In the judge’s opinion, he was a “good” risk, though she ordered the man to stay away from his victim. He proceeded to do so, never once bothering her in the lead up to the trial.
Meanwhile, she made common sense decisions regarding living arrangements. Someone else got her things from their apartment, she opened her own checking account, and set about trying to establish life on her own.
She was nervous, though. “You don’t know him,” she’d tell me over and over again. Problem was, I did indeed know his pattern and thought her misgivings intuitively right. The most dangerous time for a woman is after she leaves. This woman was living in a danger zone and she didn’t need me to tell her.
Court day came. The Commonwealth’s Attorney had his ducks in a row: pictures of my client’s damaged face (now healing), testimony from the victim and her family — the whole and usual thing in these cases.
The judge listened carefully to both sides before finding the man guilty and sentencing him to six months, suspended, on the condition that he stay away from his wife. He had a good job, he seemed reasonable and contrite — six months probation and an “anger management class” of course. He was to stay away from his victim.
After it was all over, the abuser stopped the Commonwealth’s Attorney as he was leaving court. The man’s interest was in the particulars of his sentence: only six month’s probation for damaging his wife’s eyes like that? The Commonwealth’s Attorney, who hated these guys, answered tersely, “yeah. It’s not nearly enough. Stay the hell away from her.” The man rocked back on his heels once or twice and seemed to ponder this. “Six months probation, huh?” The CA pushed past him.
You can guess the rest of the story. Within the week, my client was hospitalized, having been severely beaten. Her abuser was out on bail this time, which was set at $25,000.00. His family helped him raise the percentage for the bondsman. When I saw him, he told me it was the six months’ probation that made his assault irresistible. “Only six months,” he said. “It was worth it.”
The later circumstances are less clear now. I believe he was sentenced to a year in the county jail. What stayed with me, though, was this man’s cool assessment of risk versus payoff. To his way of thinking, he made a rational decision and was willing to pay the consequences for inflicting that amount of pain.
Same thing with Iran. A terrorist is a terrorist is a terrorist. Whether in the privacy of his home or as the head of state, there is always the calculus of pay-off. And sometimes, to their twisted way of thinking, it’s simply worth the price they have to pay.
Pray for Israel and the people of Iran.
Posted by Dymphna at 1/25/2006 12:04:00 AM