Beating up Disabled Girls: False Allegations and Judicial Dishonor

Posted on October 20, 2014


“There is no normal. The rational has been torn away from your ability to grasp it.”

Cartoonist Scott Stantis (on growing up in an abusive household)

This is the sentiment shared by everyone who’s been wrongly blamed—and abused and condemned for it.

Consider that current restraining order and domestic violence legislation and policy are defended as protecting battered women and children. Consider further that honor is not only represented as the guiding principle of judicial conduct but that it’s the title that judges are expected to ceremoniously be addressed by.

Now consider this appeal posted three weeks ago (September 30, 2014) to the e-petition “Stop False Allegations of Domestic Violence” by Phoenicia W. of Springfield, Missouri:

Hi im disabled 28 year old women. And just. Because. I was sick of being. Beat by my exboyfrend I kicked him out and he put fales charges on my cost me 10.000 dollars and I lost. Alot. How can his lies be taken. Off my record. Please. IV never. Even. Could. Hurt a fly please. I cry every. Nite. Help incident I swere.

I’ve edited copy since I was teenager. Here’s what Phoenicia means:

Hi, I’m a disabled 28-year-old woman, and just because I was sick of being beaten by my ex-boyfriend [and] kicked him out…he put false charges on me that cost me $10,000—and I lost. A lot. How can his lies be taken off my record? Please. I’ve never even (and couldn’t) hurt a fly. Please. I cry every night. Help me. I’m innocent, I swear.

The gist of Mr. Stantis’s cartoon essay is that when you’re punished for something you didn’t do, and there’s no way to make sense of your situation or escape it, it “mangles the soul.”

My tidied version makes Phoenicia sound very able and together. Look again at the unedited script, though, which is a poem of pain.

Does it look and sound like it was authored by someone who could capably represent herself in court? For that matter, does it look and sound like it was authored by someone dangerous? Finally, how honorable is beating up (or beating down, if you prefer) a disabled girl and leaving her crying herself to sleep each night—a disabled girl, what’s more, who says she was beaten by the man who accused her of violence?

Feminists are urged to ask themselves which they think will have a more lasting consequence on this woman’s psyche: having been hit by an ex-boyfriend or living day and night with the court’s judgment? Which obviously haunts her? Which has healed, and which can’t heal? (When the court acts on lies by abusers, it compounds the abuse many times and makes it gnawing and constant: “There is no normal.” Ever. Again.)

You can’t relate pain like Phoenicia’s with a lurid picture of a black eye. Her pain and its source are invisible—and count on it that all traces of either have been carefully concealed beneath layers of judicial impression management.

If you’re not familiar with the phrase impression management, here’s an example: “She’ll be okay. She just ran into a door.”

Copyright © 2014