Continued airing of court hearings puts victims at risk
Waukesha/Milwaukee (October 24, 2012) – Victims of domestic abuse deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Whether it’s a law enforcement response, treatment of a story by the media, handling of a case by the courts, or the way that friends, family, co-workers and employers respond to disclosures of abuse, we have an opportunity to help. As a community we can support victims and encourage their safety by acknowledging the injustice of the violence and sending the message that they are not to blame. We must understand their strategies for surviving abuse within the context of the abusers’ tactics. Our focus should be on the perpetrators and holding them accountable.
With this in mind, Sojourner Family Peace Center and the Waukesha Women’s Center ask that the media stop playing the recording of the Domestic Abuse Injunction hearing during which Zina Haughton asked for a final restraining order against Radcliffe Haughton. This type of reporting discourages other victims in our community from coming forward. We understand that the recording is part of the public record, but we ask the media to consider that the negative consequences outweigh the value of playing it. Continuing to play it is unacceptable.
The public discourse about domestic violence as a result of the Brookfield mass shooting is important and must continue. We are concerned about messages that assert that employers should release victims or forcing victims to take time off as a strategy for making the workplace safer. For many years, advocates for victims of domestic abuse have been educating employers about recognizing warning signs and responding to safety concerns at work. Punishing victims who disclose abuse to their employers only creates more barriers to safety. This approach forces victims to keep silent, further isolating them, or risk the loss of income and potential financial independence.
Violence in families is an extremely complex issue. Those who hear Ms. Haughton’s testimony or consider the appropriate response of an employer without a deep understanding of abuse run the risk of misunderstanding victims, blaming them instead of the abuser.
We encourage employers to learn more about community resources, work to create a plan that will allow them to proactively respond to domestic violence in the workplace and adopt policies that make it safe for victims to come forward. We are dedicated to helping local employers in this process and welcome their calls for assistance.